Accused of Illegally Taking Luxury Golf Trips on Lobbyist Tab!
What? Unethical Behavior by Comrade Feeney? Say it ain't so!
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2005, 1:04pm PT  

Looks like our friend, Comrade Feeney (R-FL), has now been linked to the ethics scandal that's been plagueing Senate Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).

Credit when it's (too rarely) due. In this case, to an investigative report from today's LA Times by Chuck Neubauer and Walter F. Roche Jr.

Feeney, who represented Yang Enteprises, Inc. (YEI) --- a Florida software firm which harbored at least one illegal alien indicted and convicted recently on espionage charges related to illegally sending missile chips to China --- is, ironically enough, throwing a "C'est la vie, Comrade Rather" fundraising party this evening. Feeney was YEI's corporate attorney and registered lobbyist for years while he was also Florida Speaker of the house before heading to the U.S. Congress in 2002. He was also Jeb Bush's former running mate in his first failed bid for Florida governor. He has also been implicated by programmer Clint Curtis for conspiring to build a "vote-rigging" program in 2000.

But according to the LA Times --- surprise, surprise! --- Feeney is being identified as having taken expensive luxury golf trips to St. Andrews, Scotland on the tab of a Republican lobbying firm now under criminal investigation.

From this morning's Times...

WASHINGTON ? A group of congressional figures has joined House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) under an ethics cloud stemming from foreign golf junkets arranged by a lobbyist facing influence-peddling investigations.

DeLay landed in trouble last month over a 2000 trip to Scotland with the lobbyist. But two other congressmen and three House aides also played St. Andrews on separate junkets with the lobbyist that may have violated House rules, records show.
...
And, like the Texas Republican, all omitted disclosing the key role of beleaguered lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
...
The same nonprofit organization also was listed by then-freshman Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) after he flew to Scotland with the lobbyist in August 2003. But in response to inquiries by The Times, the center said it did not provide "a single dime" for the Feeney junket.

Members of Congress routinely travel as guests of educational and policy groups, but they cannot accept trips or gifts from lobbyists.

The think tank's blunt contradictions of the congressmen's reports raise questions about whether [Republican Ohio Rep. Robert W.] Ney and Feeney violated House rules and filed false documents to disguise gifts from a lobbyist.

It is the latest twist in a mounting ethics scandal surrounding one of Washington's most prominent lobbyists.

Ney and Feeney, through spokesmen, blamed others for any filing errors.
...
Feeney's chief of staff expressed surprise. "You are the first to inform me of the information being incorrect," said Jason Roe.

He said any false information would be "the result of someone misleading" the congressman, "not any nefarious activity on his part."

In a statement last week, the think tank said it paid for DeLay, his wife and others to visit London and meet with British political leaders. There was no mention of the golf excursions that were, according to documents and Senate testimony, arranged by Abramoff.
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Feeney had not previously been tied to the Abramoff controversy.
A year after the Ney trip, Abramoff was headed back to Scotland on a chartered jet with Feeney.

And like Ney, Feeney reported that the National Center was the sponsor of the August 2003 trip, picking up a tab of $5,643. In addition to playing golf "on two, possibly three occasions," according to a Feeney aide, the congressman met with Scottish business and political leaders.

He also attended and reviewed the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an annual parade of kilted soldiers marching to bagpipes and drums at Edinburgh Castle. Feeney was invited, his aide said, because of his membership on the House Judiciary Committee's domestic security subcommittee.

Feeney left the golf junket early to join his wife for a previously planned vacation in Ireland, an aide said.

Also on the trip with Feeney were Reed and two congressional aides ? Mark Zachares and Bob R. Brooks Jr.

Both aides listed the National Center as their trip sponsor, although the nonprofit agency also flatly disputed that. The aides filed their travel disclosure reports with the House clerk's office hours after receiving e-mails from Abramoff's Washington law office that advised them and Feeney what to report.

Have a nice party tonight, Congressman! You make the "red state" of Florida, proud!

Anyone in D.C. wish to stop by and say hello to Comrade Feeney this evening? It looks like the party's open and not all that expensive to get in! If you do...please drop us a line afterwards!

For more info on The BRAD BLOG's continuing investigative series on
The Clint Curtis/Tom Feeney/Yang Enterprises Vote-Rigging Scandal series, please see:
- A Quick Summary of the story so far. -
- An Index of all the Key Articles & Evidence in the series so far.