A Mississippi man was arrested Thursday on allegations that he snuck into a nursing home and photographed the wife of Miss. U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Clayton Kelly, who runs a political blog called “Constitutional Kelly,” has been a vocal critic of Cochran’s and a supporter of his challenger, Chris McDaniel, a state senator.
Kelly is being held on $100,000 bond charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult after he “illegally and improperly obtained an image of a vulnerable adult resident without their consent and for his own benefit,” according to a report from Madison, Miss. police.
The alleged victim is Sen. Cochran’s wife Rose who has resided in St. Catherine’s Village retirement home since 2000. She has progressive dementia.
On April 26 Kelly posted a YouTube video “hit piece” containing the image of Cochran in the nursing home. The video was removed shortly after being posted, the Clarion-Ledger reports.
“We believed a crime may have been committed and we immediately notified the City of Madison Police Department since St. Catherine’s Nursing Home is located in the City of Madison,” Cochran attorney Don Clark said in a statement Saturday.
“As you can imagine, Senator Cochran’s first concern was that of the safety of his wife as well as the invasion of her privacy and dignity,” said Clark, who added that St. Catherine’s nursing home is also conducting their own investigation.
A blog post from February shows that Kelly met McDaniel at a meet-and-greet near Kelly’s home. The two posed for a picture, which Kelly posted on Facebook and his blog.
“Thad’s campaign is not able to defend the incumbents voting record, which eludes to the reason he cannot enter into a debate with Chris McDaniel,” wrote Kelly in a blog post last month.
“Furthermore, Chris has energy from both young and young at heart classes of people. You will not see this type of enthusiasm from Thad or his supporters.”
The senate race, which culminates in a primary on June 3, has grown increasingly combative in recent months. McDaniel is a favorite of the tea party while Cochran has been painted as a member of the GOP establishment.
The McDaniel campaign strongly denied any link between Kelly and McDaniel with a spokesman for the challenger saying that he had never heard of Clayton Kelly before, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
McDaniel also distanced himself from Kelly’s actions in a statement issued on Saturday.
“I’ve reached out to Senator Cochran directly to express my abhorrence for the reprehensible actions of this individual,” reads the statement.
“This criminal act is deeply offensive and my team and I categorically reject such appalling behavior. My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Cochran and his family,” McDaniel said. “Politics is about the exchange of ideas and this type of action has no place in politics whatsoever and will not be tolerated.”
The most recent poll on the race, conducted last month by Harper Polling, has Cochran leading with 52 percent to 35 percent with 12 percent of voters undecided.