JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s adult children said Monday they were shocked someone apparently tried to use their mother’s debilitating dementia for political purposes as their father seeks re-election in Mississippi.
Conservative blogger Clayton Thomas Kelly was arrested Friday and charged with a felony, exploiting a vulnerable adult. Authorities said he photographed bedridden Rose Cochran, 72, in a Mississippi nursing home and posted the photo online as part of an anti-Cochran video.
In a statement from the Cochran campaign, Clayton and Kate Cochran said their mother has lived in a Madison St. Catherine’s Village nursing home for 13 years.
“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. “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 not commented.
Kelly, 28, of Pearl, remains in the Madison County Detention Center under $100,000 bond. Madison Assistant Police Chief Robert Sanders said Sunday that police were also looking into the possibility that other people were involved.
Kelly’s attorney, Kevin Camp, said Sunday that Kelly voluntarily removed the video about 90 minutes after posting it online last month.
Cochran attorney Don Clark said Saturday the photo of Rose Cochran was taken near her bedside. Camp said it was taken through an open door during visiting hours.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is challenging the six-term senator in the June 3 Republican primary, said Kelly does not work for his campaign and called the photo “reprehensible.”