Ex-Cochran staffer Ann Copeland testified lobbyist gifts made life 'fun'
Tickets and meals Ann Copland received from lobbyists while employed as a congressional staffer made "life a little easier" and "a little more fun," the former aide to Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said in testimony at the trial of former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring on Monday.
Copland allegedly received personal gifts valued at about $25,000 from members of "Team Abramoff," including Ring, the Department of Justice estimated. She pleaded guilty for accepting those gifts in March.
Most of the correspondence the prosecution asked Copland about was between herself and Todd Boulanger, an Abramoff lobbying associate who pleaded guilty in January and is expected to begin testifying in the Ring trial on Wednesday.
"I did not feel like I could tell Todd 'no'... because he treated me very well, which included, in large part, the tickets," Copland said. According to Monday's testimony, she assisted members of "Team Abramoff" on legislative issues for two of their clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and Primedia.
Copeland's cross X
Though she pleaded guilty earlier this year to taking official actions because of tickets and meals given to her by lobbyists, a former Senate staffer said today in testimony that her actions would have been the same with or without the gifts. Ann Copland, a legislative aide to Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., for nearly 30 years, testified this morning in the trial of Kevin Ring, a former associate of Jack Abramoff.
"The receipt of the tickets and the meals made the lobbyists more accessible to me, and I took official actions during that time. I knew it was their job to influence me," Copland said during cross-examination by the defense. But she insisted that no single action was taken "because of the tickets."
Posted September 23, 2009 - 11:14 am