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Man arrested for allegedly photographing Thad Cochran’s wife in nursing home

A Mississippi man was arrested Friday on allegations that he apparently entered a nursing home to photograph the bedridden wife of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and posted an image of her online.

The Madison Police Department said in a statement that Clayton Thomas Kelly, 28, of Pearl, Miss., was arrested because he "illegally and improperly obtained an image of a vulnerable adult resident without their consent for his own benefit." His bond has been set at $100,000.

The police department declined to say whom Kelly allegedly targeted. But Cochran's attorney said the arrest was the result of an investigation prompted by concerns about an unauthorized photo of Cochran's wife that was posted online.

"Recently, an unauthorized picture of Senator Cochran’s wife was posted on the internet as part of a video," said the attorney, Donald Clark Jr. "The picture was taken inside of Mrs. Cochran’s room near her bedside. Senator Cochran asked our firm to represent him in this matter. We believed a crime may have been committed and we immediately notified the City of Madison Police Department since St. Catherine’s Nursing Home is located in the City of Madison. The police conducted an investigation, still in progress, resulting in the arrest last night. As you can imagine, Senator Cochran’s first concern was that of the safety of his wife as well as the invasion of her privacy and dignity."

Kelly is a blogger who has posted items opposing Cochran and supporting his Republican primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported.

In a statement, McDaniel condemned Kelly's alleged actions. McDaniel's campaign said it has neither an official nor a volunteer relationship with Kelly.

"I've reached out to Senator Cochran directly to express my abhorrence for the reprehensible actions of this individual," McDaniel said. "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."

Cochran's wife, Rose Cochran, has been a resident of the nursing home since 2000 and suffers from dementia, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

Cochran's campaign raised questions about how McDaniel's campaign knew the matter involved Rose Cochran before it was reported Saturday morning, citing a voice mail left by McDaniel campaign manager Melanie Sojourner earlier that morning denouncing the incident. McDaniel's campaign called it "unconscionable" that the Cochran campaign would use the alleged incident to make accusations.

Updated at 12:31 p.m. on 5/18

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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