Despite the fact that he was not directly implicated in any wrongdoing whatsoever, the buck really does stop with veteran Mississippi U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran as one of his longtime aides got caught up in the Jack Abramoff scandal.
Former 29-year Cochran staffer Ann Copland, 52, pleaded guilty to taking gifts from the disgraced lobbyist’s firm in exchange for helping one of Abramoff’s clients, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
The gifts included concert tickets to see Paul McCartney, ‘NSync and Green Day. Copland was apparently finicky and petulant in her aggressive pursuit of the perks – sending e-mails at one point complaining about the quality of the food and drink in luxury box seats supplied by Abramoff.
The bottom line is that all members of Congress are responsible for the behavior of their staffers. Senate rules clearly prohibit staff members from soliciting gifts from lobbyists, but it is the members who must put teeth in those rules.