Arrest of Blogger for Taking Pictures of Senator’s Ill Wife Rattles Republican Primary

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 18 2014 1:06 PM

Arrest of Blogger for Taking Pictures of Senator’s Ill Wife Rattles Republican Primary

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Sen. Thad Cochran speaks during a news conference in Capitol Hill on February 4, 2014

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Put this in the strange political tactics pile. The already-contentious Mississippi Republican senate primary turned ugly in recent days after suggestions that the tea party challenger may have ties to a blogger who was arrested for allegedly sneaking into a nursing home and taking pictures of Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife. Police arrested 28-year-old Clayton Thomas Kelly, who runs a blog called Constitutional Clayton, on Friday night on charges of exploiting a vulnerable adult, reports the Clarion-Ledger. Cochran’s wife, Rose Cochran, has been at the nursing home where Thursday’s incident took place for 14 years.

Kelly apparently posted an anti-Cochran video that included an image of Rose Cochran. How on earth a picture of someone’s ailing wife could be used for anything other than raise sympathy for a senator remains a mystery as the video was apparently removed within a couple of hours. The video wasn’t just against Cochran but also in favor of his challenger, tea party candidate Chris McDaniel, reports CNN. McDaniel tried to quickly distance itself from the photograph. “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.

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The Associated Press notes Kelly’s Facebook page includes a photo of Kelly and McDaniel at a campaign event. Yet Cochran’s campaign isn’t focusing on one picture. On Saturday, the senator’s team began raising questions about how McDaniel’s staff appeared to learn about the arrest before the news even broke. There’s a complicated series of back-and-forths about timelines and who knew what when, but ultimately Cochran’s spokesman said McDaniel and his campaign appeared to have conflicting stories about the exact time when they found out about the arrest and that it involved the senator’s wife.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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