POLITICS
07/02/2014 11:26 pm ET | Updated Jul 02, 2014

Conservative Blogger Says GOP Operative 'Helped Kill' Tea Party Leader Who Committed Suicide

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) may have eked out a narrow victory over state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) in the Mississippi Senate primary, but this bizarre contest is anything but over.

On Wednesday evening, a conservative blogger who earlier in the day may have helped derail an unusual media call held by Cochran aides on alleged voting irregularities accused the National Republican Senatorial Committee's spokesman of culpability in the suicide of Mark Mayfield, a Mississippi tea party leader and McDaniel supporter.

The spat began when the NRSC's Brad Dayspring criticized Charles C. Johnson, a Breitbart acolyte and former Daily Caller writer with a lengthy history of antics, for reporting on allegations that the Cochran campaign bought black votes in the contentious primary runoff against McDaniel, who has yet to concede the race. Johnson compensated the source of the allegations, the Rev. Stevie Fielder, for the interview. A spokesman for Cochran has since denied the vote-buying allegation.

Dayspring further urged Johnson to cease his antics, adding on Twitter that he was "delusional" for trying to "exploit others."

To which Johnson replied, "Says the man who helped kill Mayfield. I owe you nothing. It's over when the people say it's over, loser."

Mayfield, an attorney and leader of the Mississippi Tea Party, was one of three men arrested on conspiracy charges in May after 28-year-old blogger Clayton Kelly allegedly photographed Cochran's bedridden wife, Rose, who has progressive dementia, at a nursing home where she lives. The photos were allegedly used for an anti-Cochran political video that was later scrapped.

Mayfield had no official role in McDaniel's failed campaign to oust Cochran in the Senate primary, and McDaniel aides denied any involvement in the nursing home incident. But the Cochran campaign and the NRSC continued to hammer McDaniel over the affair, featuring it in campaign ads until his loss in the primary runoff last week.

Mayfield family members have threatened legal action against police, citing, among other issues, Mayfield's distressed state after his arrest.

This isn't even the first time Johnson had levied such a charge against the NRSC. Last week, he accused Dayspring of contributing to Mayfield's death "with lies about his character."

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