Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Truth About Thad

So if you remember the ugly campaign for the re-election of Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran last year, you're not alone.  The Tea Party resorted to all kinds of horrible tricks to go after Cochran, including going after his bed-ridden wife suffering from Alzheimer's dementia, which resulted in his primary opponent, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, refusing to concede last year's primary for months before forced to by the courts and accusing everyone he could find (Republicans, Democrats, and especially Mississippi's black voters) of a massive conspiracy to make him lose.

The whole thing, you may recall, started over rumors that Cochran was pulling a Newt Gingrich and cheating on his sick wife.  Rose Cochran died six months ago, and now it appears that there may have been truth to those rumors as Cochran has married the long-time aide he was allegedly cheating with.

U.S. Senator Thad Cochran married his longtime aide Kay Webber in a private family ceremony in Gulfport on Saturday, according to a one-sentence statement released by his office Monday.

Cochran's relationship with Webber became the topic of much speculation and intrigue during last year's Republican U.S. Senate primary. Supporters of challenger Chris McDaniel accused Cochran of carrying on an affair with Webber. Cochran's office denied any kind of affair.

Rumors of a possible marriage between Cochran and Webber surfaced earlier in May; however, multiple Cochran staffers denied any knowledge of a possible wedding as recently as last week.

Senate and campaign staff defended the relationship between Cochran and Webber during last year's campaign in light of news detailing travel overseas and back to the district that included Cochran and Webber. A campaign spokesperson at the time said Webber "is a member of the staff and a trusted aide, and any other suggestion is silly gossip."

Cochran spokesman Chris Gallegos said Monday that Webber would remain on the senator's staff.

So in the end, the Tea Party bloggers going after Cochran were probably right, and he was cheating on his wife. The Washington Post is more than a little unhappy.

Over the past 12 years, records showed that Webber had joined Cochran on more than 30 publicly funded international trips costing more than $150,000, the Clarion-Ledger reported in 2014.

Critics also pointed to records that showed the six-term senator rented the basement apartment of Webber’s $1.6 million Washington rowhouse as proof of an untoward relationship.

Cochran’s Senate and campaign staff defended Webber’s involvement in the travel and apartment as “strictly professional” and “perfectly appropriate” for a senior staff member.

Webber, who makes about $140,000 a year, was said to attend official meetings and social functions, help the senator maintain his travel schedule and organize constituent events, his office said.

Cochran spokesman Jordan Russell told the Clarion-Ledger a year ago that Webber “is a member of the staff and a trusted aide, and any other suggestion is silly gossip.”

Rumors of the couple’s marriage had begun to swirl earlier this month, the Mississippi newspaper reported Monday, though Cochran staffers denied knowing of any wedding as recently as last week.

And so it goes, Republican values voters.

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