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Top Mississippi Tea Party official charged in photographing of Sen. Cochran's wife in nursing home

Primary challenger says those involved in secretly photographing Sen. Thad Cochran's wife in a Mississippi nursing home should be prosecuted.
By Frances Burns   |   May 22, 2014 at 4:59 PM  |  Updated June 3, 2014 at 3:57 PM   |   Comments

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MADISON, Miss., May 22 (UPI) -- The vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party was charged Thursday for secretly photographing Sen. Thad Cochran's wife in her nursing home.

Bail was set at $250,000 for Mark Mayfield. Mayfield, a lawyer, is also an official with the Central Mississippi Tea Party.

Two other men were also charged Thursday. Last week, Clayton Kelly, a right-wing blogger, was charged with entering a Madison nursing home surreptitiously and photographing Rose Cochran.

Footage was briefly posted on a website supporting state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging Cochran in the Republican primary. McDaniel issued a statement Thursday denouncing Kelly's alleged actions.

"As we have said since day one, the violation of the privacy of Mrs. Cochran is out of bounds for politics and is reprehensible," McDaniel said. "Any individuals who were involved in this crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest added a charge Wednesday "of photographing or filming another without permission where there is expectation of privacy" against Kelly, who was already charged with "exploiting a vulnerable adult." Both charges are felonies with possible 10-year sentence for the older one and five years for the new count.

In addition to Mayfield, Richard Sager and John Mary face charges. Sager is a physical education teacher at the Mason Elementary School in Laurel, Miss., and a former soccer coach at Mississippi Delta Community College, while Mary has been identified only by name.

Cochran was elected to the House in 1972, when he and Trent Lott became the second and third Republicans to win congressional races in the state since Reconstruction. He was elected to the Senate in 1978.

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