Red State: Thad Cochran’s Relationship and the Bipartisan Culture of Mississippi Corruption

Thad Cochran’s Relationship and the Bipartisan Culture of Mississippi Corruption

By Charles C. Johnson, Redstate.com, May 27, 2014

Now everyone in DC and Jackson knows that Senator Thad Cochran’s lives in a DC mansion with his highly paid aide, Kay Webber.

What they don’t know is that the wife of a director of Trustmark National, a Mississippi bank, helped finance that home and that her husband’s bank received $215 million in TARP money. Trustmark Bank is currently in trouble with the FEC for loaning a pro-Cochran PAC over $250,000, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

Senator Cochran has traveled with Kay Webber to 42 countries on 33 taxpayer-funded junkets. She is Cochran’s date to exclusive parties in and around the DC area. Cochran and Webber are even on the front cover of Washington magazine. She was even listed as at a high society dinner as “Mrs. Cochran.”

The real Mrs. Cochran, Rose, has lived in a Madison, MS nursing home since 2000. Her residency there has become the subject of a lot of attention because some blogger broke in there to take a picture of her. You may have heard about it. Of course there at least a dozen photos of Cochran and Webber going on dates together. Sorry if I don’t take it so seriously when he says he’s worried about his wife. After all, Ephesians 5:25 tell us to love our wives as Christ loves the church and not move to DC with another lady. If you are going to do that, that’s your call but it’s probably not a good idea to live with the other woman in a DC mansion financed by a bank you helped bail out.

Meanwhile Kay Webber hosts Democratic fundraisers at their “exquisite 1878 Victoria home” on Maryland Ave. NE, in Washington, DC. You can view a photo of one of the parties here.

The Cochran campaign would have you believe that Webber bought her then $800,000 mansion in 2001 by herself and this just ten years after she was robbed at gunpoint outside her apartment in a rough neighborhood of DC. The “Webber home” is now worth $2 million and has hosted fundraisers for Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee and Charlie Rangel, in addition, of course, to Thad Cochran.

Webber bought the DC mansion with Betty Shows, a member of the powerful Democratic Shows family and a homemaker. Her brother in law is Ronnie Shows, the former Democratic Mississippi congressman. Pro-tip: As is typical in a lot of financial corruption, it always helps to cherchez la femme.

Mrs. Shows took a 1.0 interest in the home and Webber, the other 99%. On October 23, 2002, Shows gave Webber her 1.0 percent interest over to Webber and made her the sole owner of that “exquisite 1878 Victoria home.” She paid off all of the loans by 2003.

The question is, how in 2001 did an executive assistant to a U.S. Senator afford to buy a then $800,000 (now $2.1 million) home in Washington, D.C. and pay off her loans in less than two years?

The answer seems to be good old-fashioned influence. Trustmark family helped secure the financing for that home and then DC and Cochran on appropriations rewarded them by giving them $215 million in TARP money.

W.T. Shows is Betty Shows’s husband. He was a Director at First Capital Corporation, established in 1968. Also a Director at First Capital was Reuben V. Anderson, according to this listing. Both Shows and Anderson were also at Trustmark as late as 2002 when the home was purchased for Webber, according to this document.

Anderson was the first black graduate at Ole Miss law. He graduated in 1967. Cochran graduated from Ole Miss Law School in 1965. From 1990-2012 Anderson’s campaign contributions show he gave to support just ONE Republican, $1000 to Cochran in 2007 the rest were all to Dems, which strongly suggests he was doing it for a business, rather than a political reason. Trustmark’s CEO, Richard Hickson, also contributed to Cochran’s campaign. According to FEC records, Hickson gave Cochran $1000 in 2000, 2001, and 2007. In 2008, Trustmark received $215 million in TARP funds in 2008. That’s a lot of money for a Mississippi Bank.

It’s worth asking why Betty Shows, wife of Trustmark director, bought a home for Cochran’s longtime aide and mistress. What else did Trustmark get for its money? Shouldn’t we want to know the answers to these questions?

After all, Cochran’s last longtime aide, Ann Copland, actually went to jail in 2009 for corruption after receiving at least $25,000 worth of bribes from super lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

When Abramoff’s office complained about how Copland’s demands were excessive, especially wanting to be front row for Green Day and a Paul McCartney concert, Abramoff, knowing full well that Cochran headed the powerful Senate Appropriations, replied in March 2002, “She’ll get everything she wants.” (Given the condition of Webber’s lovely dresses and jewelry, it seems that Webber, too, gets everything she wants.)

Cochran, meanwhile, gave Abramoff’s clients everything they wanted. In 2001, Cochran wrote a letter on behalf of the Choctaw Indians to Interior Secretary Gale Norton. The Choctaw were then one of Abramoff’s biggest client. Cochran, for his troubles, received “received about $82,500 from Abramoff, his lobbying partners and tribal clients between 2001 and 2004, including roughly $8,000 in the period around which the letter was sent.” (Associated Press, 11/17/05)

In 2006, Cochran did the tribes bidding once more and placed a hold on an Indian gaming bill that John McCain pushed in the wake of the Abramoff scandals to help the Choctaw.

Indeed Cochran’s much advertised beef with Senator John McCain wasn’t over anything principled at all. Cochran—the king of pork—objected to McCain’s opposition to earmarks.

More seriously, though, Cochran’s flawed private life makes him subject to extortion in Mississippi, a state firmly in the Bible Belt. It’s bad enough to live in sin but it’s something else entirely when the house of sin you live in isn’t in Mississippi.

Given this potential for political blackmail is it any wonder that Cochran is praised by Senator Harry Reid as a “wonderful man”?

“He doesn’t talk very much. He’s silent most of the time,” Reid said on the anniversary of Cochran’s 10,000th vote.

Now we know why.

Charles C. Johnson is an independent investigative journalist and researcher. He personally paid for all of this research.

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