Mississippi's Crazy Election Scandal Just Got Crazier

Tea party official arrested in connection with video of Sen. Cochran's bedridden wife
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2014 11:59 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2014 12:19 PM CDT
Mississippi's Crazy Election Scandal Just Got Crazier
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

GOP Sen. Thad Cochran is in a dogfight to keep his seat in Mississippi ahead of next month's primary, but as crunch time nears, what's the big topic in his race against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel? A secretly made video of Cochran's bedridden wife in a nursing home. An anti-Cochran blogger got arrested earlier this month after posting the video, and new arrests suggest he wasn't acting alone. The Clarion-Ledger reports that Clayton Kelly made the video as part of a planned attack ad on Cochran alleging that he was having an affair. (Cochran, whose wife is unaware of her surroundings, denies any infidelity.) Police arrested three more alleged conspirators yesterday, including a leading Tea Party activist in the area, Mark Mayfield. All face felony conspiracy charges.

Investigators have not linked the scheme to McDaniel, but Cochran's camp doesn't seem wary of doing so. A new ad states that a "Chris McDaniel supporter has been charged with a felony for photographing [Cochran's] wife in a nursing home. Had enough? … Rise up against dirty politics." McDaniel denies any involvement with the video, though his campaign has offered conflicting statements about what it knew when, reports the Daily Beast. Bad move, writes Ben Jacobs. "If the Tea Party hopeful had been straightforward from the beginning, the damage might have been minimized. Instead, he’s fueled a story that is likely to continue until the June 3 primary and may do significant harm to McDaniel’s hopes of toppling a six-term incumbent like Cochran." (More Mississippi stories.)

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