Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)’s (R-MS) lawyer initially brought information about a blogger photographing Cochran’s wife at her retirement home to the mayor of Madison, Mississippi, not police, according to The New York Times.
The Times‘ story is about Tea Party leader Mark Mayfield, who was arrested in connection with the blogger break-in incident and later committed suicide three days after Cochran won the runoff election against state Senator Chris McDaniel.
In one of the most notorious episodes in what is widely considered the most ugly and bitter primary battle in the election cylce, a crazed blogger snuck into Cochran’s wife’s retirement home to photograph her, an image of which he used in a video designed to fuel rumors that Cochran was carrying on an affair with his longtime executive assistant.
But in the months since the incident and the subsequent arrests of the blogger, Mayfield and several others alleged to have conspired with him, a key question, raised by McDaniel and others, has remained unanswered: why did Cochran wait nearly three weeks after learning about the incident before contacting the authorities?
In the Times story, Cochran’s lawyer, Donald Clark of Butler Snow, the same law firm as former Mississippi Governor and now lobbyist Haley Barbour, speaks to the question for the first time since then, denying that politics – McDaniel had risen sharply in the polls in the time between the incident and when Cochran went to authorities – had anything to do with it.
“We did not delay our response to this incident due to any political issues or timing,” Clark said.
He also admitted that the initial contact was not to police, but to the mayor of Madison, Mississippi – the city where Cochran’s wife Rose’s retirement home is – Mary Hawkins Butler. Cochran’s team asked Butler to request that the police chief view the video, the story reports.
Mayor Butler and the police chief did not comment for The New York Times story.
In previous statements to Breitbart News, Clark said that he contacted “appropriate law enforcement authorities” on Cochran’s behalf.
“As we would in any similar situation, we gathered appropriated background information on his behalf and looked at his options for both civil and criminal remedies,” Clark said in a statement to Breitbart News reporter Matthew Boyle in May. “That resulted ultimately in our contacting the appropriate law enforcement authorities on his behalf and turning this matter over to them. They have conducted their own investigation and have taken whatever actions they deemed appropriate.”
The new information raises questions about, not only the political timing of Cochran’s team, but the chain of command regarding the criminal investigation.
Instead of going immediately to the police about the video when they first learned of it, they waited three weeks before contacting Butler, a Cochran supporter, to respond to the incident.
After Cochran finally did bring the information to police, they arrested Mayfield and conservative activists Rick Sager and John Mary on conspiracy charges that they worked with blogger Clayton Kelly, who filmed the video.
The Times notes that Mayfield had “lost his political appetite” after the charges were filed, and he couldn’t even bring himself to vote in the runoff election about which he once cared deeply.
Friends of Mayfield tell the Times that his friends and political colleagues were “infuriated” by his treatment, including the order to pay a $250,000 bond. The Mayfield family has threatened to sue the City of Madison and the Police Department for what they described as a politically motivated case.
Mayfield was also described as a felon in a Cochran campaign advertisement prior to the election, and he lost most of his clients as a result of the controversy.