JACKSON, Miss. (TheBlaze/AP) -- Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, who made national headlines in 2014 after reminiscing about his childhood "picking up pecans, from that to all kinds of indecent things with animals,” has married his longtime aide, according to the Associated Press.
Kay Webber has worked for the Republican senator since 1981, and both are 77, spokesman Chris Gallegos said. She makes $165,000 a year in his employ. The wedding was a private ceremony in Gulfport, Missippi.
Cochran's first wife passed away in December. She suffered from dementia and had been living in a nursing home for 13 years.
Republican Senator Thad Cochran responds to a reporter's question at a Cochran for Senate rally at the Mississippi War Memorial in Jackson, Miss., Monday, June 23, 2014. Cochran faces state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, on Tuesday in a runoff for the GOP nomination for senate. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis
The New York Times adds:
A blogger and supporter of Mr. Cochran’s opponent took pictures of the senator’s bedridden wife ... and posted them in a video online [during the 2014 primary]. Rumors of an affair between Mr. Cochran and Ms. Webber, also 77, persisted throughout the campaign.
Mr. Cochran rented the basement apartment in a home owned by Ms. Webber in Washington. She also went with him on 28 trips to 45 countries, despite her having no particular area of expertise, all at taxpayer expense.
But officials from his office dismissed the rumors, with The Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Miss., reporting that Mr. Cochran’s staffers were denying knowledge of the upcoming nuptials as recently as this month. On Monday, his office put out a one-sentence news release announcing that the couple had been married in a private family ceremony, just off the coast of Mississippi.
Cochran, who battled Chris McDaniel for the Republican nomination, originally trailed his challenger, but won by 7,667 votes in a contentious runoff election. McDaniel filed a lawsuit claiming the runoff results were tainted by voting irregularities, but 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.
This story has been updated.