Tea Party Leader Linked to Cochran Photo Scandal Found Dead

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Mark Mayfield, who faced conspiracy charges relating to last month's scandal involving photos of Sen. Thad Cochran's wife, was found dead in his home of a gunshot wound to the head. Police are investigating the death as a suicide. (Update: Officials say a suicide note was found at the scene. "Everything we see so far, this appears to be a suicide," Ridgeland Police Chief Jimmy Houston told the Associated Press.)

In May, Mayfield was charged with conspiracy after Clayton Kelly, a supporter of Chris McDaniel, entered the nursing home of Sen. Thad Cochran's wife and took photos without her permission. Rose Cochran suffers from Alzheimer's. The photos were intended for negative attack ads, possibly implying that Cochran was having an affair. The country's district attorney alleged that Mayfield directed Kelly on how to enter the nursing where his own mother once lived. He was set to appear before a grand jury some time in July according to WAPT

Mayfield, vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was well known on the state's political scene. Mississippi's Gov. Phil Bryant released the following statement: 

Deborah and are saddened to hear of the loss of Mark Mayfield. He was a long-time friend, and he will be missed. Our prayers go out to his family in this tragic moment.

Laura Van Overschelde, a local tea party activist, said Mayfield "was still visibly shaken from what had happened to him," according to Politico. Grant Sowell, another Tea Party leader, said he "got cut off from the world" after the charges were filed. “Nobody should have died over this,” he added. “It’s just an election. I’m heartbroken by it … I wish I’d reached out more.” 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.