One of the three men arrested Thursday in connection with a photo taken of Rose Cochran, the bed-ridden wife of Mississippi U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, once co-hosted a radio show with Cochran’s GOP primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
John Mary was arrested and charged with conspiracy, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported.
Mary, who goes by John Bert, at one point co-hosted “The Right Side Radio Show” with McDaniel. McDaniel helped start the radio show but largely stepped away after being elected to the state Senate. He has occasionally guest hosted.
Mary has hired attorney Doug Lee, who served as co-counsel with McDaniel in a 2010 challenge to Obamacare, the Clarion-Ledger reports.
Mary was also involved in the Hattiesburg tea party. His Internet activities, including comments on Facebook and political websites, show he strongly supported McDaniel’s effort to unseat Cochran.
Two other men — one with connections to McDaniel — were arrested Thursday, raising more questions about how much McDaniel knew of the ploy to photograph Cochran without her knowledge.
The most prominent is Mark Mayfield, an attorney and member of the board of directors of the Central Mississippi Tea Party and vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
Mayfield helped McDaniel’s campaign by distributing yard signs and performing other campaign duties. He also contributed $500 to McDaniel’s campaign.
Richard Sager, who is a teacher and coach, was also arrested in connection with the photograph. He is charged with tampering with evidence and felony obstruction of justice, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
Clayton Kelly was the first arrest in the case. He was taken into custody and is still being held on $100,000 bond for exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
Kelly allegedly snuck into Rose Cochran’s room at a retirement facility and snapped her photo. Cochran has been in the facility since 2000. She has progressive dementia.
Kelly operated the blog “Constitutional Kelly,” which touted McDaniel’s challenge against Cochran. He allegedly posted a YouTube video that contained the picture of Cochran on April 26. It was taken down shortly after.
Authorities and political observers have tried to determine if McDaniel was involved in the incident. McDaniel’s camp has denied any involvement and the candidate has said he hopes that the perpetrators are punished.
Stories circulated that Madison County, Miss. District Attorney Michael Guest had determined that McDaniel played no part in the scandal. But The Washington Post reported late Thursday that Guest had not ruled out any suspects.
Cochran was recently hit with scandals of his own, including his questionable residency status in the state and a relationship he had with an assistant, who traveled extensively with him on taxpayer money.
Tea party groups largely opposed Cochran, who has been in office since 1972 and has grown out of touch, they say.
The Daily Caller’s request for comment from the McDaniel campaign was not immediately returned.