Clayton Kelly, Chris McDaniel, and rumors about Thad Cochran

(Photo: Special to the Clarion-Ledger)

UPDATE: The Clarion-Ledger now reports that the “McDaniel camp knew about Cochran break-in before it was public”:

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s campaign is questioning how Chris McDaniel’s campaign manager, state Sen. Melanie Sojourner, apparently knew about Clayton Kelly’s arrest before news of him allegedly sneaking into Rose Cochran’s nursing home room and taking photos broke.

Cochran campaign spokesman Jordan Russell said Sojourner left a voice mail message for Cochran campaign manager Kirk Sims at about 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, offering condolences over Kelly’s alleged actions and assurance McDaniel’s campaign doesn’t condone it. Russell said Sojourner indicated she had been concerned over the incident since Friday night.

The picture above of Clayton Kelly and Chris McDaniel was found on Kelly’s website, according to The Clarion-Ledger.

More on Kelly from The Clarion-Ledger:

A Pearl man who runs a political blog is accused of sneaking into a nursing home where U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s wife is bedridden and photographing her, then posting the image in a video political “hit piece” on the internet.

Madison Police arrested Clayton Thomas Kelly, 28, of Pearl on Friday night on a charge of exploitation of a vulnerable adult. He’s being held on a $100,000 bond.

Kelly is accused of sneaking into St. Catherine’s Village in Madison, where Rose Cochran has resided since 2000, suffering from progressive dementia and now bedridden.

Campaign sources say Kelly on Saturday, April 26th, posted an anti-Cochran, pro-Chris McDaniel “hit piece” video that included the image of Rose Cochran. The video and references to it were removed from the internet within a couple of hours.

Cochran issued a statement about protecting his wife’s privacy and security while his lawyer talked to the paper about “an unauthorized picture, posted on the internet, of Mrs. Cochran, taken literally in her room by her bedside at St. Catherine’s.”

McDaniel’s communications director (Noel Fritsch) told the paper that Kelly doesn’t work for the campaign, the campaign wasn’t involved in the video, and that he (the comms guy) didn’t even know who Kelly is. McDaniel later issued a statement condemning it and offering his thoughts and prayers to Cochran and his family.

Then, a third contact with the paper from the McDaniel campaign happened when the campaign’s coalitions director talked to them:

Scott Brewster, coalition director for McDaniel’s campaign, contacted Saturday, indicated he was aware of the video.

“I do remember when it came out,” Brewster said. “I think people made some phone calls (to have it removed). I didn’t personally — nobody personally talked to (Kelly). I don’t know if anybody made phone calls about it. I’m not sure. Just, I remember all of a sudden it was gone.”

His comments are curious in that they appear to be backtracking as he digs a deeper hole about it. Of course, the unwritten thing in all of this is the fact that there has apparently been an attempt to say Cochran is having an affair with a DC aide (Kay Webber) while his wife is in the nursing home in Mississippi. Much of the coverage of this aide has centered around the fact Cochran rents a DC apartment from her.  However, it’s pretty obvious that the personal allegations are just under the surface.

Earlier this week, Matthew Boyle of wrote a story on the residency issues that delved into the official travel Webber made to foreign countries along with the senator. Boyle raises some good points about the foreign travel. His story dances around the rumors before delving into them a bit more in the closing lines:

Cochran is married to Rose Cochran, who resides at a retirement home in Madison, MS. According to the Madison County Journal, she suffers from severe dementia. A Dec. 18, 2002 article reported that Rose Cochran had been a resident of St. Catherine’s Village in Madison for two years.

When asked, Russell said any questions about a personal relationship between Cochran and Webber is “silly gossip.”

Getting back to Clayton Kelly, he is a blogger with an active YouTube channel. One of his recent blog posts is a repost from Infowars on “Glenn Beck and Company: CIA, CFR and Establishment Media Insiders.” The post goes on to spin conspiracy theories that include Beck, Dana Loesch, S.E. Cupp, Laurie Dhue, and Betsy Morgan.

Kelly also recently blogged about Cochran and his post included a video posted to YouTube by “Thomas Jefferson.”

Some observers have noted that McDaniel might be the last best hope of tea party voters to take out an incumbent Republican senator this cycle. Unfortunately, Lindsey Graham seems to be in the driver seat (I’d be voting for someone else in the primary if I still lived in the Palmetto State.) It’s also looking like Mitch McConnell will probably win in Kentucky.

If Thad Cochran loses to Chris McDaniel, that’s okay with me. The people of Mississippi get to make that call, not anyone from out of state, including me. It is very sick however that apparently a McDaniel partisan, albeit a disavowed one as far as that goes, snuck into the nursing home where Cochran’s wife lives and according to the Cochran attorney, was right at her bedside. This type of behavior does McDaniel no favors and it will be another thing that will be used against the tea party. I really hope the claims made by the McDaniel campaign are true.

It goes without saying that Kelly is innocent until proven guilty.

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in Columbia, SC and Washington, DC.

Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.

Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Jeff Quinton