Washington Bureau

06.27.14

Tragic Turn In Mississippi Tea Party Scandal

Mark Mayfield, a lawyer and Tea Party leader under indictment for his role in a break-in at the nursing home of Sen. Thad Cochran's wife, killed himself Friday morning.

The bizarre Republican Senate primary in Mississippi has taken yet another twist, this time for tragedy.

Less than three days after six-term incumbent Senator Thad Cochran pulled off a win in a runoff against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, a bit player in the campaign has taken his own life.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported that Mark Mayfield, a prominent Tea Party leader and McDaniel supporter who had been indicted in connection to the April break-in of Cochran's wife's nursing home, has killed himself. Mayfield, a respected lawyer, shot himself in the garage of his Ridgeland, Mississippi home. The county coroner refused to respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.

Mayfield's death marks a sad turn in a dramatic campaign that also featured McDaniel supporters locked in a county courthouse on election night as well as allegations of senility and connections to the Ku Klux Klan. 

While the campaign between McDaniel and Cochran was always hard-fought, it took a strange turn in May when a blogger named "Constitutional" Clayton Kelly was arrested for breaking into the nursing home and videotaping Cochran's wife who suffers from severe dementia. Shortly thereafter, three others, including Mayfield and a former radio co-host of McDaniel's, were arrested as well for conspiring with Kelly. 

For all of the campaign's weirdness, the Senate race had always something farcical in its utter strangeness before Mayfield's suicide. Even the alleged felonies always had something bumbling and bizarre about them. and the grossest accusations still gave a whiff of "Watergate in Mayberry." That is not the case anymore.