Aide to former House Republican leader indicted in Abramoff case
An aide to former U.S. House Majority Leader Richard Armey was indicted on corruption charges in connection with disgraced U.S. lobbyist Jack Abramoff, including taking free sports tickets and helping his clients with a government contract.
Horace Cooper, who served as a legislative counsel to Armey, was charged with conspiracy, concealing his actions, making false statements and obstruction of justice, according to the indictment filed in U.S. district court.
Prosecutors accused the legislative aide of receiving valuable tickets to events like Washington Redskins football games and concerts including rock singer Bruce Springsteen between 1998 and 2000, when Cooper worked for Armey.
In 2001, when Cooper became chief of staff at the Voice of America, which is a U.S. government-run news outlet, he is accused of telling Abramoff to let him know if he can be helpful to his firm.
Abramoff told staff at the restaurant he controlled, Signatures, to provide Cooper with complimentary meals and drinks and arranged for a free Super Bowl party for him and 25 of his friends at another Abramoff restaurant called Stacks, the indictment said.
The indictment accused Cooper of helping Abramoff and an associate in 2002 in their efforts to participate in a VOA broadcasting project and obtaining $10 million-$15 million in funding from the State Department.
At one point during that time, Cooper complained to Abramoff that he was charged $141 at the Signatures restaurant, telling him that “I think there may have been a little glitch at the restaurant.”
After leaving VOA for the Labor Department during the Bush administration, Cooper worked to help an Abramoff client, CNMI Garment Manufacturer, deal with a pending investigation by the agency, prosecutors charged.
During that period, Cooper also solicited from Abramoff tickets to numerous events including professional basketball and baseball games.
An attempt to reach Cooper was not immediately successful. He could face up to 40 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Abramoff was sentenced in 2008 to serve four years in prison in a corruption scandal that rocked Washington’s power elite and helped Republicans lose control of Congress in 2006. He already is serving a nearly six-year term on unrelated charges.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria (Abramoff outside a courthouse)