The next domino is set to fall in the Jack Abramoff saga.
Ann Copland, a former longtime aide to Sen. Thad Cochrain (R-MS), was charged late last week with accepting gifts from, and doing favors for, the corrupt lobbyist and his cronies.
Court documents filed Thursday say Ann Copland took thousands of dollars worth of event tickets and meals out in Washington from Abramoff and associates at his firm. Prosecutors say the gifts were in exchange for her favors benefiting one of their top clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
For weeks, there had been speculation that this move might be coming. When Team Abramoff member Todd Boulanger was charged last month, court documents referred to a Cochran staffer as having accepted gifts from Boulanger, in exchange for doing legislative favors for the Choctaw. The Associated Press quickly identified the staffer as Copland.
Then when Boulanger pleaded guilty shortly after, court documents revealed email exchanges between him and Copland, in which she complained that there were no “Hebrew National hotdogs” in the corporate suite at a Baltimore Orioles game that Abramoff’s firm had provided her, and declared she was “freaking out” because no food was provided for her party at a Washington ice skating event.
Boulanger once wrote to Abramoff of Copland:
She’s more valuable to us than a rank and file house member.
Copland abruptly left Cochran’s office last year as Abramoff prosecutors gained more convictions of Hill aides. She had worked there 29 years.
So: Could the wide-ranging probe now have Cochran in its sights? We may be about to find out…