Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel weighed in Thursday on the illegal photographing of Sen. Thad Cochran's wife, now that multiple McDaniel supporters have been arrested in connection to the incident.
Mark Mayfield, the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was arrested Thursday along with Richard Sager, The Clarion-Ledger reported. Last week, blogger Clayton Kelly was arrested after allegedly posting online images of Rose Cochran, who suffers from dementia, that were taken at the nursing home where she lives.
The connections to the McDaniel campaign has raised some issues for the challenger since Kelly's arrest was first reported over the weekend. The Clarion-Ledger has a photograph of McDaniel with a group of volunteers, including Mayfield, and Kelly had written about his support for McDaniel on his blog.
Still, McDaniel continues to deny any connection to the alleged crimes.
"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 in a statement Thursday. "Any individuals who were involved in this crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The Cochran campaign has attacked McDaniel for what it says are inconsistent statements about the incidents.
"They've changed their version of events so many times; it's a new day and another version," Jordan Russell, the communications director for the Cochran campaign, said in a phone call with reporters on Wednesday.
Russell pointed to a voicemail from Melanie Sojourner, a state senator who serves as McDaniel's campaign manager, left for Cochran campaign manager Kirk Sims on May 17, the morning after Kelly's arrest was reported on a local blog, without any details about why he had been arrested. She said McDaniel was upset about it and wanted to speak to Cochran.
Later that morning, the Clarion-Ledger broke the story about why Kelly had been arrested, after which McDaniel initially claimed ignorance of the event when asked about it by reporters.
Before commenting Thursday, McDaniel indicated he would not answer any more questions about the affair. In an open letter to Cochran on Wednesday, McDaniel said the Cochran campaign was attempting to "slander" him and declared he would "not engage either your campaign or the liberal media in their absurd witch hunt."
The primary has devolved into one of the nastiest and most bizarre races of the cycle. It will come to a close on June 3, when Mississippi Republicans will select their nominee.
The race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.