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Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and his GOP primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. / AP

JACKSON, Miss. -- A Mississippi man who runs a political blog is accused of sneaking into a nursing home where Republican Sen. Thad Cochran's wife is bedridden and photographing her, then posting the image in a video political "hit piece" on the internet.

Madison, Miss., 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.

Thad Cochran on Saturday issued a statement saying "we are deeply affected by my wife's serious, long-term illness, that we consider to be a very private family matter. We will continue doing everything we can to protect my wife's safety and security."

Donald Clark, attorney for the Cochran's, said the couples' "privacy and dignity have been violated."

"We became aware of an unauthorized picture, posted on the Internet, of Mrs. Cochran, taken literally in her room by her bedside at St. Catherine's," Clark said. "Sen. Cochran retained my law firm on this matter, and we looked at various legal options."

Clark said St. Catherine's is also conducting an internal investigation.

Campaign sources say Kelly on April 26 posted an anti-Cochran "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.

Kelly operates a blog, "Constitutional Clayton," a YouTube channel and other social media endeavors. He has posted numerous pieces in support of state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging Cochran in the Republican primary.

A spokesman for McDaniel's campaign said it was not involved in the video and Kelly doesn't work for the campaign.

"Absolutely -- I've never even heard his name," said Noel Fritsch, McDaniel's communications director.

But the Cochran campaign questioned how McDaniel's campaign manager, state Sen. Melanie Sojourner, apparently knew about Kelly's arrest before news of the incident broke Saturday.

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

A Clarion-Ledger article posted online at 9:24 a.m. Saturday broke the news about a connection between the arrest and the Cochrans.

Sojourner could not be reached for comment.

In a written statement Saturday, McDaniel said: "I have reached out to Sen. Cochran directly to express my abhorrence for the reprehensible actions of this individual. This criminal act is deeply offensive and my team and I categorically reject any such appalling behavior."

Madison Assistant Police Chief Robert Sanders had little comment on Kelly's arrest.

"It's an ongoing investigation," he said.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Man held over photo of senator's bedridden wife

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