Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-MS) re-election campaign has released the voicemail of state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s (R) campaign manager calling the rival campaign about the arrest of pro-McDaniel blogger Clayton Kelly.
McDaniel campaign manager Melanie Sojourner, in the voicemail left at around 7:41 a.m. on Saturday, asks to connect McDaniel and Cochran directly regarding Kelly’s arrest for reportedly breaking into the nursing home of Cochran’s wife, Rose, to photograph her. When news broke of the arrest the McDaniel campaign, at first, denied knowledge about it and other details about Kelly.
“We don’t know this guy, we have no idea who he is that’s been arrested by the Madison police, trying to do one of the most despicable things that I have ever heard of,” Sojourner said in the message for Cochran campaign manager Kirk Sims.
Since the arrest the McDaniel campaign has given conflicting statements on when it was made aware of Kelly’s arrest. In the call Sojourner said she found out about the arrest late Friday night and that McDaniel “is very upset about it and needs to have a personal phone call certainly with you, but he really wanted to have one with Sen. Cochran if you think that would be at all possible.”
That contradicts what McDaniel said when asked about the arrest in an interview with The Hill on Saturday morning. In that interview McDaniel said he had not previously heard about Kelly being arrested.
Late Saturday night, hours after Kelly’s arrest was first reported by the Clarion-Ledger of Mississippi, the McDaniel campaign tried to give a definitive answer on the timeline of events about when it found out about Kelly’s arrest. The statement said that Sojourner had first learned about the arrest late Friday night and that McDaniel had only been “briefly” made aware of the arrest early on Saturday morning.
“There was some stuff several months ago where this guy was doing some insane stuff online,” Sojourner said in the voicemail. “We found out about it and Chris and I immediately sicced a bunch of volunteers to find out who was the source of a lot of ugly rumors and nasty stuff and we wanted it squashed because from day one I have demanded that our staff not get involved in certain aspects of Sen. Cochran’s personal life. This is a campaign about political issues.”
Listen to the audio of Sojourner’s voicemail below: