Senator Thad Cochran marries aide

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FILE – In this April 16, 2009 file photo, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., tells a business audience he believes a free enterprise system and the values of hard work and self-reliance will help the American economy recover during the annual meeting of the Mississippi Economic Council, the state chamber of commerce, in Jackson, Miss. […]

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JACKSON, Miss. — U.S. Senator Thad Cochran married his longtime aide Kay Webber his office announced on Monday.

According to reports, the private wedding took place Saturday in Gulfport.

Cochran received national attention back in 2014 when political blogger Clayton Kelly took photos of the Senator’s bedridden wife, Rose Cochran.

She died in December at the age of 73 from dementia after living in a nursing home for 13 years.

Kelly took the pictures in April 2014, and officials said he intended to us the images to advance allegations that the senator had an inapporpriate relationship with Webber.

Cochran’s aides said then that there was nothing improper about the senator’s relationship with Webber.

Webber has worked for Cochran since 1981, and both are 77, spokesman Chris Gallegos said.

She makes $165 thousand a year working for the senator.

Kelly faces charges of conspiracy, burglary and attempted burglary over the photograph.

His lawyers, however, question whether any laws were broken.

Charges against three other men have been resolved.

Richard Sager, a Laurel teacher and coach who had been charged with conspiracy and tampering with evidence, entered a pretrial plea diversion program.

His case won’t be prosecuted if he completes the program.

John Mary of Hattiesburg pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Mary received no jail time and could have the conviction wiped from his record if he completes probation.

Ridgeland Attorney Mark Mayfield was charged with conspiracy.

Police said he died by suicide in June.

The photograph controversy was only one part of a chaotic 2014 Republican primary in which Cochran was challenged by state Sen. Chris McDaniel, an Ellisville Republican.

McDaniel led Cochran and one other Republican candidate in the June 3 primary.

But Cochran rallied and defeated McDaniel by 7,667 votes in a runoff three weeks later, in part by making appeals to typically Democratic African-American voters.

McDaniel filed a lawsuit claiming the runoff results were tainted by voting irregularities.

A circuit judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying it was filed too late.

The state Supreme Court upheld the dismissal Oct. 24.

Cochran was first elected to the U.S. House in 1972 and won his first six-year term in the Senate in 1978.

He waited until late last year to announce he was seeking re-election, weeks after McDaniel had entered the race and lined up financial support from groups that sought to unseat longtime Republicans.

Cochran cruised to victory in the general election with 60 percent of the vote.

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