Scandal shakes up Senate race

Greg Nash

A grand jury could consider a case against a pair of photographers who snapped pictures of Sen. Thad Cochran's (R-Miss.) bedridden wife for use in political advertising against him, the Clarion-Ledger reported Friday. 

Blogger Clayton Kelly has been charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult for allegedly taking the photos in Rose Cochran's nursing room, an attempt to boost Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a June 3 primary against Cochran. 

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Prosecutors are attempting to add charges of conspiracy and photo voyeurism against Kelly and Mark Mayfield, the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, is being charged with conspiracy.

The release of the photographs last week has roiled the Mississippi GOP Senate primary. McDaniel has denied that his campaign was involved in the photographing of Cochran’s wife and his supporters have argued that Cochran, who was first elected in 1978, has been in office too long. 

Cochran’s wife suffers from dementia and has lived in a home for the elderly in Madison, Miss., since 2000. 

Cochran’s attorney, Donald Clark, has called the photographs a violation of the family’s “privacy and dignity.” 

The case against Kelly was sent to a grand jury on Thursday, according to the report. A judge ruled the additional charges had to be presented at a later date because they newly added to the case.

The penalty for the three charges that are facing Kelly total 20 years in prison.

Madison County District Attorney Michael Guest told the paper that it would likely take until July for prosecutors to prepare the cases against Kelly and Mayfield. 

"I do not believe that the investigation will be completed and reviewed in time for the finding of the Madison Police Department to be presented to the June (grand jury) meeting," Guest said. "The following grand jury meeting would then be in July."

-Alexandra Jaffe contributed.