The Abramoff investigation keeps on a-givin.
Horace Cooper, a well-known Republican commentator and one-time aide to former Majority Leader Dick Armey, was charged today with accepting thousands of dollars worth of tickets to sporting events and concerts in return for helping Jack Abramoff and his clients advance their interests.
Cooper, 44, is also accused of failing to disclose the gifts on his financial disclosure forms and lying to investigators about free meals he received from Abramoff, according to an indictment returned today by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C.
Cooper worked for Armey from 1994 to 2001, and later served as the chief of staff for Voice of America, an executive branch agency, and chief of staff for the Labor Department’s Employment Standards Administration. The indictment outlines alleged acts that occurred during a a seven-year period, beginning in 1998.
From the Justice Department’s news release:
Specifically, the indictment alleges that during this time, Cooper solicited and received from Abramoff and his colleagues thousands of dollars worth of tickets to sporting events and concerts; that Cooper and his companions allegedly received free or discounted meals and drinks on dozens of occasions at a restaurant controlled by Abramoff; and that Cooper, at Abramoff’s invitation and expense, allegedly hosted a Super Bowl party for his friends at another restaurant Abramoff controlled. The indictment also alleges that Cooper, rewarded and influenced by the tickets and meals solicited and received from Abramoff and his associates, agreed to use his official positions at VOA and the Department of Labor to advance Abramoff’s interests and those of his clients. In addition, the indictment alleges that from approximately 1998 to 2000, Cooper received from Abramoff and his colleagues thousands of dollars worth of tickets to concerts and sporting events while Cooper was serving as a Congressional staffer.
To date, 20 individuals have been snared in the Abramoff probe. The former lobbyist was sentenced in September to four years in prison and is cooperating with authorities in the ongoing investigation.
Cooper’s case is being prosecuted by Public Integrity trial lawyers Matthew Stennes and Marc Levin. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy; five years in prison for fraudulent concealment; five years in prison for each of two false statement counts; and 20 years in prison for obstruction of justice. If convicted, Cooper also faces a maximum fine of $250,000.
A footnote: Armey resigned from DLA Piper last week. The former majority leader told The BLT his ties to a conservative nonprofit opposed to health care reform were hurting the firm.