“If I find out anyone associated with our staff had anything to do with this it is immediate grounds for dismissal,” Sojourner wrote in the April 26 email. “We have to know we cannot engage in these attacks.”
Kelly’s arrest has upended the race between six-term incumbent Cochran and McDaniel, providing Cochran a moment of sympathy when he needed it most, while putting McDaniel on his heels about what he knew and when he knew it.
The incident helped national GOP establishment figures swoop in to attack McDaniel, and offered a public exhibit of an inexperienced grassroots campaign in crisis mode. But the initial war over the incident has operated without a key fact: the McDaniel campaign knew about the video when it came out, and sent out a wide call to aides and volunteers to find the person who posted it and get them to take it down.
Hours later, a campaign aide contacted two local Republican activists who had been posting about the video on social media, who in turn talked to Kelly, relaying the message that the campaign wanted the video down. Kelly complied.
Several Mississippi conservative activists not affiliated with the McDaniel campaign told this reporter of the video, how it came to be and what it contained. On May 11, I asked Kelly about the matter on Facebook, the first and only time I contacted him.
“I heard you may have had a video of Rose Cochran,” this reporter wrote to Kelly.
“Yep,” he replied, to my surprise.
“Any way you can send to me?” this reporter followed up.
“I can send you the info, but I don’t want that picture of Rose to get out,” he answered. “I can give you the one of her sign though.”
He followed up by sending a photograph of the sign outside the door to Rose Cochran’s room at St. Catherine’s bearing the name “Rose Cochran.”
The photo, for a variety reasons, was never published. First, it raised legal questions about how it was obtained – questions that seem even more pertinent now that Kelly’s been arrested. But secondly, and more importantly, Rose Cochran’s tragic situation was irrelevant to her senator husband’s public life, and sneaking into her residence to take a photograph of her seemed cruel and even deranged.