From the time we learned that conservative Mississippi blogger Clayton Kelly thought it would be a bright idea to slip into a nursing home and take a picture of Thad Cochran's bedridden wife, Rose, it was obvious that others were involved. After all, Mississippi has really cracked down on elder abuse in recent years. Kelly stands charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The attorney general has set up a separate unit to deal with abuse of vulnerable adults. That should have been common knowledge to any Mississippi political junkie--which makes it obvious others were involved in this despicable stunt.
Well, that theory may have been confirmed earlier today, when police in the Jackson suburb of Madison announced that the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party was arrested for taking part in the scheme.
The vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and one other suspect have been arrested in connection with the photographing of the bedridden wife of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Attorney Mark Mayfield, a vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party and an officer with the Central Mississippi Tea Party, was arrested Thursday by Madison police. The second suspect arrested has not been identified.
That second person was subsequently identified as Richard Sager, an elementary school PE teacher from Laurel. Both men are charged with conspiracy, while Sager is also charged with evidence tampering. Also today, Kelly was slapped with an additional charge of conspiracy.
Mayfield, like Kelly, is a supporter of Cochran's primary challenger, state senator Chris McDaniel. He actually volunteered with the McDaniel campaign at least once. However, prosecutors believe--at least for now anyway--that McDaniel wasn't in on the scheme.
Later in the day, it was announced that a third man, John Mary of Hattiesburg, was also arrested. However, he was released on his own recognizance due to health problems, while Sager is jailed on $500,000 bond.
Until today, the most loathsome person tea partier in Mississippi was Central Mississippi Tea Party chairwoman Janis Lane, who is infamous for saying in 2012 that women shouldn't be allowed to vote. From the looks of it, Mayfield has her beat by a city mile. The fact that a guy who is an officer of a local tea party and the vice-chairman of the state tea party is anywhere near this disgusting stunt makes you really wonder about that organization's culture.
We learned something else earlier today--Kelly really doesn't understand how much trouble he's in. Scott Simmons of WAPT in Jackson was on hand for Kelly, Mayfield and Sager's hearing today, and captured this breathtaking exchange.
A Madison police officer testified during the hearing that Kelly used the photo, which was taken on Easter Sunday, to launch is blog and radio show and to "further his journalistic career."
Kelly's attorneys said the blogger didn't make any money off the video and argued that if the value is under $250, the charge is a misdemeanor. In response, the police investigator said Rose Cochran's image is "priceless."
No, Clayton. What you did was wrong, period--and you shouldn't be trying to parse it. I thought the Republican Party was supposed to be the party of personal responsibility. Ten to one that any plea discussions are off now.