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.
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.