Pleas and please – former Cochran aide admits to accepting gifts from Abramoff’s firm

Every story has two sides and sometimes both are true – the story of Ann Copland’s service to Senator Cochran is one with two truths.

The sad truth was told in a courtroom in Washington this morning – and about that I know nothing more than what I’ve read in the related news stories.

Please know there is another truth.  While Abramoff is quoted as saying, “She’ll get anything she wants”, I am one of the countless Mississippians who called on Ann for assistance empty-handed  and received efficient, effective assistance in return.

She did her job well – so much so, in fact, that it may have led to her downfall.  Several years later, I was in Washington with my daughter and made a point of stopping by the Senator’s office to thank her personally.  I found her to be the all-too-rare person you meet and find so warm and engaging that you would like to know them better.

I had nothing to offer but a thank you and never felt even that was expected. It is with that same spirit of goodwill that I now offer you, our readers, this different truth about Ann and her service to the Sentator and his constituents.  The Times-Picayune tells the sad one.

A former longtime aide to Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran pleaded guilty today to swapping legislative favors for event tickets and other gifts from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s firm.

Ann Copland wiped tears from her eyes as she admitted to U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts that she took the gifts in exchange for helping one of Abramoff’s top clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Copland is the latest among more than a dozen congressional aides, lobbyists, lawmakers and Bush administration officials convicted as part of a lobbying scandal spawned by Abramoff, a former high-flying influence peddler now serving a four-year prison term.

E-mails disclosed in court documents that Copland sent to Abramoff’s firm show she was particularly demanding in what she wanted from the lobbyist.

At one point she sent a long list of ticket requests that included several concerts, hockey, ice skating and the circus. At other times she sent e-mails from inside the firm’s luxury box seats complaining about the food and drinks.

Among the e-mails filed in court was one from lobbyist Todd Boulanger to his boss saying they should go out of their way to keep Copland happy because “she’s more valuable to us than a rank-and-file House member.”

Another e-mail from Kevin Ring, an Abramoff associate, included a list of events Copland wanted to attend and how many tickets she wanted for each event. She asked to see singer Paul McCartney, an ice skating event, musical acts ‘NSync and Green Day and a hockey game. She also asked for two to six tickets to see the circus, but only if they were floor seats.

Abramoff responded: “She’ll get everything she wants.”

Copland worked for Cochran for 29 years, then abruptly left his office last spring after Abramoff prosecutors had netted a dozen convictions in the scandal.

In Tuesday’s hearing, Copland admitted she understood that Senate rules prohibit staffers from soliciting gifts from lobbyists but still secretly did so.

8 thoughts on “Pleas and please – former Cochran aide admits to accepting gifts from Abramoff’s firm”

  1. After the storm I called Cochran’s office looking for help with the SBA and was told they were too busy wokring on l’affaire d’etat to be concerned with such a small request as mine. Luckily for me Gene’s office wasn’t too busy to help me, or the disabled folks I sent his way that were in trouble with IRS.

    I won’t say anything about Ms Copland because I did not deal with her but if Thad Cochran presented himself in front of me on fire I doubt I’d piss on him to put it out.

    The Choctaws have the best US Senator money could buy in Thad Cochran.


  2. I understand Nowdy and I don’t hold the good service against you. And before I make a snide remark about my request being on the same day of the NSync concert I’ll leave it at that. 😉


  3. Its not like the Chowtaws were inviting political types to their casino for a jackpot weekend. :) But it was against the rules so it wasn’t fair for her to accept gifts from them.

  4. “Greed is a terrible thing” as is written in a frame in the card room of Colonial Country Club in Jackson. A statement by a late a great gin player at the club. It gets to too many people.

    Sen. Cochran just voted for the wasteful spending bill in the Senate. It is terrible! Can anyone say required term limits?

    Mrs. Pelosi is “pissed” because all the DOD’s planes are not available for Memorial Day. Has she noticed we are having somewhat of a financial problem in the USA?

    A bipartisan post. We just need to start over in Washington.

  5. Sup I think most of the problems lie in the US Senate IMHO. If I had time, I’d do a post comparing Barney Frank’s and Chris Dodd’s chairmanships of the respective banking/finance committees….. a comparison that would not be very flattering toward Dodd. Of course Mr Frank never cuddled up with Angelo Mozillo either.

    And yes we are very bi-partisan here at Slabbed as we sling Caca at pols of both parties as self serving double dealing does not follow political ideology.

    You’d like Gene Sup. He shoots straight.


  6. I respect Mr. Taylor for his “stand up” approach. It is not easy going against “The Queen”. My US Rep is also a “blue dog dem” and has voted against all the bailouts and spending.

    I hope it is his principals and not he knows he is a democrat in a heavily republican district and is getting a bye from “The Queen” to be one of votes as needed.

    Sorry, at my age I, like you, am skeptical of all pols.

  7. It would have been easy for Gene to switch parties all those years the congressional Dems were in the political wilderness and the GOP tried hard at least once that I remember to recruit him.

    I think the Bluedog resurgance is a good thing. Believe it or not I also think Madam Speaker thinks so as well because without them she’d only be Rep Pelosi.


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