Thad Cochran Children 'Shocked' by Blogger's Photo of Ill Mother

Monday, 19 May 2014 09:53 PM

By Jason Devaney

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The children of Sen. Thad Cochran are "shocked" over allegations that a blogger took a photo of their ailing mother at a nursing home and used the image for political purposes.

Clayton Thomas Kelly was arrested Friday and charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a felony. He is accused of sneaking into the nursing home at St. Catherine's Village, a retirement community in Madison, Miss., and snapping the photo of Rose Cochran, wife of the veteran Mississippi Republican, who has dementia. She has lived in the community since 2000.

Kelly, 28, a conservative blogger, allegedly put the photo in an anti-Cochran video posted online last month. He took the video down about 90 minutes after uploading it, his attorney Kevin Camp said, CBS News reports.

Kelly supports Cochran's challenger in Mississippi's GOP primary, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

The Cochrans' adult children, Clayton and Kate, expressed their outrage at the incident in a joint statement Monday.

"It is amazing and humbling to see how devoted our dad has been as Mother has progressed from early dementia to complete loss of language to her current state of hospice care," they said, as reported by CBS News. "He is a model of understanding for those who are losing their loved ones in this way. We are shocked by someone trying to use our mother's illness for political purposes."

Cochran, 76, has yet to comment on the incident. He has served in the Senate since 1978 and was a member of the House for five years before that. He is currently the third-most senior member of the Senate.

McDaniel said he is not affiliated with Kelly, who remained in jail on a $100,000 bond Monday. But the Cochran campaign questioned how McDaniel's campaign manager apparently knew about the arrest before the news became public.

On Saturday, the McDaniel campaign released a statement about the situation, saying: "The McDaniel campaign found out about the break-in when a local political blog posted about it at 11:40 p.m. last night. Sen. McDaniel has denounced the break-in and called Sen. Cochran to extend his condolences. It is unconscionable for the Cochran campaign and the liberal media to use the act of a sick individual to lob despicable accusations."

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