Three more arrested in Mississippi mud-flinging case

The curious case of Clayton Kelly got even more curious yesterday. Police arrested three more men in the investigation of the photographing of Rose Cochran in her nursing home, including the former radio partner of a candidate in the Republican primary for the US Senate seat in Mississippi. All three were charged with conspiracy, and two face even more charges:

The arrests today included attorney Mark Mayfield, a member of the board of the Central Mississippi Tea Party; Richard Sager of Laurel; and John Mary of Hattiesburg.

The three men were charged with conspiracy. Sager is also charged with evidence tampering, while Mary faces multiple charges.

The Clarion-Ledger updates the scorecards with some background on all three men:

Mary is the most mysterious of the three. The Hattiesburg resident is also known by his radio name, John Bert. When McDaniel was elected to the state Senate and left the WMXI radio program he started — and which recordings of have caused the candidate heartburn during the campaign — Mary became co-host to Fairchilds, who had co-hosted with McDaniel.

But Mary and McDaniel are no strangers. McDaniel continued to participate with the radio program and was a regular guest host. According to internet postings, Mary and McDaniel even regularly co-hosted together when McDaniel would visit the show. …

Mayfield’s connection to the McDaniel campaign seems to be the strongest. Mayfield is listed as the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, which was quick to endorse McDaniel when he announced his candidacy. Mayfield was also one of the more active volunteers with the campaign. He helped distribute literature and yard signs. The Ridgeland attorney repeatedly posted in Facebook comments about where people could pick up campaign material and about upcoming events. Mayfield apparently volunteered in a campaign office on Lakeland Drive in the shopping center behind Mugshots. And Mayfield contributed $500 to McDaniel’s campaign.

But Mayfield’s political involvement also extended into McDaniel’s work as a state senator. Mayfield was at the Capitol often during legislative sessions, and he helped organize political events aimed at fiscal issues pushed by the Senate Conservative Coalition, which McDaniel started. In 2009, Mayfield helped organize the first Tax Day Tea Party event in the state with WJNT radio host Kim Wade. One of the headliners of that event was McDaniel.

Sager, on the other hand, is facing the most serious charge of felony obstruction, as well as conspiracy. So far, police and prosecutors aren’t talking much about what they’re finding in this investigation, but the additional arrests strongly suggest that this wasn’t just a case of a blogger wandering far off the reservation all on his own. If authorities are filing obstruction charges, that also suggests that at least one person was trying to clear his tracks.

The DA handling the case made it a point to say that there is no evidence at this point that the McDaniel campaign had any involvement in this plot, although he also stopped short of issuing a definitive clean bill of health on that score, too. Given what we already know about the initial response from the campaigna response that they foolishly denied at first — that fits with those facts which have been made public. The Cochran campaign hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory in this instance, either. And strictly from an analytical/theoretical point of view, any major campaign with even a modicum of professional competence would have had nothing to do with this kind of stunt.

However, it’s still … curious that four men now seem to have connected with each other with no prior strong connection to each other (that’s known at this point anyway) to have concluded that this project was a good idea. The results of this investigation will be very, very interesting to see.