In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Meet The Blogger Who Risked It All For A Mississippi Tea Party Candidate

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Kelly described this in his blog, called Constitutional Clayton, back in February, months before he would get arrested and gain national attention for photographing Rose Cochran, the senator's wife, for an anti-Cochran campaign clip. McDaniel is challenging the incumbent senator in the primary.

Kelly, according to his wife, Tara, had been trying to increase his blog's prominence and after being "contacted by some anonymous people" online who told him Rose Cochran lived at the St. Catherine's Village nursing home in Madison, Mississippi, decided to take her picture as a follow up to an anti-Cochran video about the senator and aide Kay Webber. As a result Kelly was arrested and is currently being held in jail on a bond of $100,000. For Kelly this all came about because he wanted to gain attention as a political blogger.

"He is an awesome husband to my daughter, and an awesome, awesome, awesome father to his daughter, who is autistic," Lily Hancock, Kelly's mother-in-law told the the Clarion-Ledger. "He just got caught up in the moment. He was just trying to get his dad-blasted Constitutional Clayton blog noticed. Trying to get his name out there."

My husband is the greatest man I've ever met," Tara Kelly said. "He works hard so I can be a stay-at-home mom and home-school our daughter. … I could hardly imagine a day without him, until all this happened."

Kelly, 28 and a customer service engineer with a two-year degree from Virginia College who specializes in servicing big data-storage computers, seems to have started his Constitutional Clayton blog in February. It's a collection of short posts that range from local Mississippi politics to major national events. There are a few themes throughout the blog: libertarianism and support for McDaniel.

Here's Kelly's account of his first meeting with McDaniel:

He took the time to answer questions from as many people as he could. You could tell the feeling in the air was that everyone is scared of what this government is doing and we are ready to fight back.

He described his foreign policy as mostly non-interventionist.
Someone asked him about if he was scared about the boats from Iran recently, he responded (paraphrased) I don’t particularly like Iran. With sarcasm he says, “Do you think I am scared of the Iran Navy?”

His poise and grammar level were of high intellect and he spoke like an open book.

Both the McDaniel campaign and Kelly's family have said he is not directly connected to the campaign.

Another Constitutional Clayton blog post titled "CHRIS MCDANIEL – THE NEXT RAND PAUL?" argued that "Chris McDaniel is a Tea Party Conservative much like Rand [Paul], Ted [Cruz], and Mr. [Mike] Lee." That post also featured a fawning video of McDaniel and argued that some of Cochran's votes are "closer to fascism than Democracy":

Other blog posts are titled "PROOF AL SHARPTON IS DEEPLY RACIST AND HOMOPHOBIC – VIDEO," "THE BUNDY RANCH IS BEING SOLD TO A HARRY REID’S SON / CHINESE OWNED COMPANY. CRONYISM EXPOSED!!!"

When writing about the Bundy Ranch, Kelly said "We have seen an insane amount of government force resembling Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union building up at the Bundy ranch."

The blog doesn't appear to be especially well-trafficked. Most of the posts have few or only one or two comments and the blog has an Alexa.com global rank of 1,382,538.

Some of those posts feature clips from Kelly's YouTube channel which he seemed to have started in 2013. One Constitutional Clayton video is a roughly 7-minute clip titled "The KKK And The Democratic Party" that appears to be from InfoWars.com. Another Constitutional Clayton clip, which is about 23:00 minutes long, attacks the Southern Poverty Law Center (he incorrectly abbreviated as the "SLPC"). Kelly described the SPLC as actively involved in labeling conservatives as terrorists.

"I want to talk about the tea party, the patriot movement, the liberty movement and patriots are all being labeled as terrorists in this country," Kelly said in the clip. He goes on to say that the SPLC is in the business of labeling organizations as hate groups.

"When you get the label of hate group that automatically means you don't have any rights," Kelly said in the video.

Kelly's political alignment seems to be more on the libertarian side of Republicans. A Facebook page of a Clayton Kelly of Brandon, Mississippi who's married to a Tara Kelly includes a link to the Libertarian Party of Mississippi's Facebook page. Other posts on the page are apocalyptic-sounding warnings about socialism against capitalism or comparisons between modern day America and Nazi Germany. On a Infowars.com photo Kelly posted he wrote in the caption "What would you do if you were a Jew in Germany right before Hitler sent you to a camp? Probably nothing. The parallels between Nazi Germany and the USA are getting much much more common." Another post by Kelly on Facebook argues that nobody should read Time magazine or Rolling Stone because they've made Hitler out "to be a great person."

Kelly does seem to have some sympathizers since his arrest. Members of the Mississippi for Liberty have been arguing that Kelly should be released and that his bail has been set too high.

"Clayton Kelly was doing a story on Thad and his wife's pic is just a very very small part of the hole story," one member for the group wrote on Tuesday. "so this is a 1st amendment issue. Now i am getting irate that a US Senator is trying to take Clayton's the first amendment right for political gain. This is a matter for the ACLU to get involved in. FREE Clayton Kelly!!!!"

Photo credits: Constitutional Clayton

About The Author

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Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper's Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.