Clayton Thomas Kelly, a 28-year-old man from Pearl, MS, snuck into the retirement home of Rose Cochran, the wife of Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), to take secret photographs of her and post them online.
Madison, MS, police arrested Kelly late Friday evening “on a charge of exploitation of a vulnerable adult,” according to The Clarion-Ledger. Kelly is 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,” the newspaper reported.
Thad and Rose Cochran’s attorney, Donald Clark, told the local paper that the Senator and his wife’s “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. We notified the proper authorities, which in this case is the city of Madison Police Department.”
Kelly had reportedly posted the photograph online as part of a video, before removing it quickly. This posting apparently happened on April 26, according to The Clarion-Ledger.
“Campaign sources say Kelly on Saturday, April 26th, posted an anti-Cochran, pro-Chris McDaniel ‘hit piece’ video that included the image of Rose Cochran,” the Ledger wrote. “The video and references to it were removed from the internet within a couple of hours.”
Kelly runs a blog called Constitutional Clayton on which he has commented about various political happenings in Mississippi over the past several months.
Cochran has come under fire in recent weeks following stories from Breitbart News and a variety of local media for questions about his residency in the Washington, D.C., home of–and travels with–his longtime executive assistant, Kay Webber. Those stories were published well after Kelly’s posting of this alleged illicitly obtained photograph on April 26.
Cochran’s questionable residency and travel behaviors began after his wife Rose began residing at St. Catherine’s Village. Local media, including the Madison County Journal, have long reported that she now lives there.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging Sen. Cochran in the primary, denounced Kelly’s activities.
“I’ve reached out to Senator Cochran directly to express my abhorrence for the reprehensible actions of this individual,” McDaniel said. “This criminal act is deeply offensive, and my team and I categorically reject such appalling behavior. My thoughts and prayers are with Senator Cochran and his family.” McDaniel continued, “Politics is about the exchange of ideas, and this type of action has no place in politics whatsoever and will not be tolerated.”
Aides say that Kelly had no role–official or volunteer–with McDaniel’s campaign.