Tea Party Leader Arrested in Cochran Scandal Commits Suicide

A Tea Party leader implicated in the primary season scandal of a blogger entering a nursing home to take photos of a senator's ailing wife has committed suicide, according to the Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi.

The paper reported this morning that attorney Mark Mayfield, vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, killed himself. He was one of the three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) wife in her nursing home and create a political video against the incumbent.

Kelly, 28, who wrote posts in support of McDaniel, was arrested by authorities in Madison County last month for taking a photograph of Cochran’s wife, Rose, who suffers from dementia, in her room. Kelly was charged with exploiting a vulnerable adult, conspiracy and photo voyeurism.

State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Miss.) condemned the blogger's actions and said he was not connected to the campaign. The Cochran campaign, though, questioned how McDaniel’s campaign manager, state Sen. Melanie Sojourner, apparently knew about the arrest before it hit the headlines.

From the Clarion-Ledger:

Mark Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested last month along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of "extensive medical conditions." All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.

The arrest of Mayfield, well-known in political, business and legal circles, caused shock in Mississippi, in a criminal case and election that already had Mississippi in the national spotlight.

On Wednesday evening, the Mississippi Tea Party called what it promised would be an important press conference on Thursday. That news conference was canceled due to "timing conflicts," then was rescheduled for 4 p.m. for "breaking news." Less than three hours beforehand, the press conference was canceled yet again "due to the rapidity and volume influx of information."

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