Sunday, July 11, 2004
Justice Dept. Inquiry Requested by Udall
Earlier this year, Doug Copp was awarded $649,000, tax free, from the fund set up to compensate victims of 9/11. He says it's not enough. But it's doubtful he deserves anything. A Journal investigation found no evidence Copp did real rescue work in New York. Read the Journal's full four-day series here.
By Leslie Linthicum
Journal Staff Writer
Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., whose office lobbied the 9/11 fund on Doug Copp's behalf, made this statement:Helping constituents who are encountering difficulties with federal agencies is one of the most important responsibilities I have as one of New Mexico's U.S. Representatives. As a member of Congress, I cannot approve a claim or appeal, or compel any agency to act in favor of our constituents. Those types of decisions are made by the federal agency involved based on the facts of the case. At the same time, we have to take our constituents at their word. Surely there are bogus claims made, but the majority of citizens who turn to their elected officials are decent and hardworking people looking for help. If these allegations are confirmed, they are deeply troubling. It would seem that a number of well-intentioned New Mexicans were ensnared in a web of deception.
While the Department of Justice undoubtedly had a difficult task in administering the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, if these allegations are proven, there is absolutely no excuse for Fund administrators not verifying a claim. I am concerned that a fraudulent claim may have been processed and paid. Considering some claims were rejected for lack of proof, something seems to be terribly wrong if compensation was wrongly awarded in this case.
I wrote a letter to the Department of Justice asking them to launch an investigation into this matter as soon as I was made aware of the discrepancies. The Department of Justice has a moral and legal responsibility to get to the bottom of this complex case, and I look forward to their response.