While most of the press gave a great deal of coverage to accusations that State Representative David Cook had engaged in an improper relationship with a lobbyist, there has been little follow up coverage by anyone in the media as additional details have been disclosed. While this publication has written regularly on the biased process and the manner in which Bas Aja, a prominent and powerful lobbyist, has used the Ethics Committee process to advance his own personal agenda, there has been little coverage in the mainstream media.
The latest development that has received almost no attention was a formal statement released by AnnaMarie Knorr, the lobbyist at the center of the accusations. In her statement,a copy of which was emailed to all of the House members, Knorr writes that the accusations were not just hearsay, they were completely false, and they were being spread by her “soon-to-be ex-husband” and her father (Bas Aja).
Most of the media circus has centered around letters that the Cooks sent to Knorr while she was in rehab dealing with an alcohol addiction. The letters were lengthy, very personal, and contained expressions of love and concern for Knorr’s well-being. At that time Knorr said “I was left completely alone by everyone who claimed to love me – except my children and the Cooks.” She claims that she asked for long letters because they were her only connection with the outside world, and indicated that they were critically important in her getting through that difficult process. “These letters meant the world to me.” said Knorr in her statement. According to her, the letters were stolen by her ex-husband after she returned home from the clinic and were given to her father, who then shopped them to members of the media, hoping to generate bad publicity for her and Cook. She said she had been contacted by numerous reporters, but that when they learned the details of the story, they all passed on it and refused to report what was clearly a personal attempt to damage the reputation of several people.
Ultimately the story was run by the Yellow Sheet, which did not contact her for her side first. In a remarkable portion of Knorr’s declaration, she details how she herself was in the hospital watching over a young daughter who had had open heart surgery. This was only a few months since she had regained her sobriety, and while she was watching over her daughter, her father emailed her the Yellow Sheet “so I could know what he had done.” Knorr wrote, “You don’t need to know anything more about what kind of a man he is, other than that he is that kind of man.” Her husband did his best to keep up with Aja, propping “the front page AZ Republic article on the cot next to my daughter’s hospital bed to make sure I would see their handy work.”
Knorr’s story is one that women who have been in abusive relationships easily relate to. Luckily for Knorr, she had the support of David and Diana Cook, who stood by her side through those challenges and continue to do so to this day.
Knorr also directed the investigators to pursue the connections between Bas Aja, her husband, and the signers of the two complaints that kicked off the official inquiry.
For his part, Cook has long refused to answer questions relating to Knorr and her struggles, saying only that it wasn’t his story to tell and that she had the right to tell it when she was ready. Referring to this, Knorr wrote that “David and Diana Cook could have made their own lives a lot easier by walking away from me a long time ago. They could have made their own lives a lot easier by airing my dirty laundry to explain that they were the heroes in the story, not the villains. But they didn’t. They stayed true and for that I will always be grateful.”
Knorr addressed the charge of an improper relationship directly, writing “There was never an inappropriate relationship. There was never anything improper or unethical. To the contrary, the Cooks have gifted me with their love in the most Christian and compassionate of ways. If more people took care of their friends and looked after their fellow man in such a way the world would be an amazing place.”
The House Ethics Committee continues to spend taxpayer money investigating the matter and are employing a number of attorneys and at least one private investigator to compile a complete report. There is no timetable yet for when their work will be completed.