In what was undoubtedly the most tragic episode of the 2014 U. S. Senate primary, Jackson attorney Mark Mayfield, a supporter of Sen. Chris McDaniel, took his own life after the powerful players who stood behind Sen. Thad Cochran had shattered his reputation beyond repair with his supposed involvement in the so-called “nursing home scandal.” Mayfield was one of four men arrested and charged for taking a picture of Rose Cochran in her nursing home bed in April 2014.
On the third anniversary of Mayfield’s untimely death, his family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against a gaggle of pols and law enforcement officials they believe are responsible for the suicide. The family claims Mayfield was wrongfully accused and falsely imprisoned, actions that caused him to lose his most important client and, thereafter, his entire firm, especially after a swat team arrested him at his law office and the presiding judge handed down an astronomical bond of $250,000. This was completely unjustifiable for a man who had no criminal record and was accused of nothing more than giving someone information about a room at the nursing home.
The list of defendants in the Mayfield lawsuit include the powerful law firm Butler Snow, Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler, several members of Madison’s police force, and Donald Clark, also of Butler Snow, who represented Thad Cochran during the nursing home affair. All of these people, including each member of the police, supported Cochran over McDaniel in the 2014 campaign, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit places the blame squarely on Cochran and his political campaign machine, and not on Chris McDaniel, who the media blamed for the entire episode, including insinuations that he was the mastermind behind it.
The only non-Cochran-supporting defendant listed in the suit is attorney Richard Wilbourn, who, as a Tea Party activist, seems to be the real culprit, not Mayfield. Up until this point, three years after the death of Mayfield, Wilbourn’s name has never emerged in any discussion of the nursing home scandal.
In the lengthy, 33-page complaint, here are some of the significant facts that emerged:
1) Wilbourn, not Mayfield, told Clayton Kelly where to find Rose Cochran’s room at the nursing home.
2) Wilbourn first contacted Roy Nicholson, head of the Mississippi Tea Party, about obtaining Rose Cochran’s photo but Nicholson informed him that “McDaniel would not approve” of such a plan.
3) Using a blocked number, Wilbourn posed as Mark Mayfield when he spoke to Clayton Kelly on the phone about the operation.
4) Authorities pinned the blame on Mayfield, rather than Wilbourn, since Mayfield was closely connected to McDaniel.
5) “Rather than immediately reporting any alleged ‘crime’ to authorities, Clark and Butler Snow waited until almost three weeks later to contact authorities at the City of Madison – just weeks prior to the Republican Primary Runoff Election.”
6) After the arrests, “Butler Snow and Clark worked both independently and jointly with the City of Madison, Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler” and the individual police officers, “to develop their criminal legal theories to go after Clayton Kelly, and to cause harm to the McDaniel Campaign,” “which would politically be advantageous for the Thad Cochran Campaign.”
7) “The prosecution of Mark Mayfield was a political prosecution. Plain and simple.” The Cochran campaign “seized the opportunity to make a political issue against Chris McDaniel.”
8) “The City of Madison, Hawkins-Butler … Butler Snow and Clark worked together to target certain individuals for arrest and prosecution based on those individual’s support of Chris McDaniel, Senator Cochran’s opponent.”
9) “Mark was a pawn in a political game. This was not about justice, but, rather, about the Cochran political machine and its Madison branches exacting revenge for supporting Cochran’s opponent.”
The lawsuit complaint provides ample evidence that Chris McDaniel and his campaign team had absolutely nothing to do with the nursing home “break-in,” a fact that was acknowledged throughout the judicial process by attorneys representing the accused during their criminal proceedings. The actual “break-in” operation was the work of individuals acting on their own and without any authority from McDaniel or anyone on his team. The Cochran campaign, in a very sinister fashion, shamelessly used the incident for their own political gain, and this lawsuit only further drives home that point. The facts listed in the complaint should forever put this issue to rest.
Mississippi, now recognized as the most corrupt state in the nation, is the one place in America where we can no longer turn a blind eye to this type of heinous political activity where a kind and generous man lost everything because of the heavy handed, selfish acts of those who used their power and influence to push him into such a crippling mental state. It is our hope at MCD that the Mayfield family is awarded every justice extended to them by the legal system.