Experts: Unpublished finding may impede grand jury probe into Abramoff-ties by corrupt former FL lawmaker, alleged vote-rigging conspirator, and other members of Congress
ALSO: Feeney now being represented by Karl Rove's(!) attorney...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2009, 11:16am PT  

From Washington Post:

A federal appeals court has dealt a blow to the investigation of a former congressman in a ruling that could also limit probes of other lawmakers, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

The order, which has not been made public, came during the grand jury investigation of former representative Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) and his potential ties to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the sources said. The appellate judges who issued the ruling did not say when they would release an opinion explaining their decision, which reversed a lower court order favorable to prosecutors seeking documents and grand jury testimony, the sources said.

Even without knowing the details of the ruling, sources and legal experts said it is important because it is the second time in two years that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has sided with Congress in its fight with the Justice Department over what protections lawmakers are granted under the Constitution's "speech or debate" clause. The clause is designed to shield lawmakers' official work from executive branch interference and has been increasingly cited by members of Congress under federal investigation.

The corrupt Feeney, as regular readers of The BRAD BLOG likely know, is currently under federal investigation due to his association with jailed Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In 2003 Feeney went on a junket with Abramoff to play golf at St. Andrews in Scotland. He would later claim he had no idea that the trip was illegally paid for by lobbyists.

For more details on the appellate court ruling --- or rather, hints, given what little is available on it for the moment --- please see WaPo's coverage today to hunt for clues.

One other very interesting point we hadn't noticed previously... Feeney is now being represented by Robert D. Luskin. If that name doesn't ring a bell, Luskin is also the attorney representing another well-known corrupt Republican currently under investigation: Karl Rove.


In 2004, as first reported by The BRAD BLOG, then-Republican software programmer Clint Curtis filed an affidavit, gave sworn, video-taped testimony to a Congressional panel, and passed a polygraph test alleging Feeney had asked him to create vote-rigging software when he worked with Feeney at Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI) in Oviedo, FL.

Feeney was ousted from his U.S. House seat by Democrat Suzanne Kosmas last November and, according to another recent WaPo story, has since rejoined his old law firm in Florida, where he was previously a partner. The firm, now known as Fowler, O'Quinn, Feeney & Sneed, is the same one cited by media accounts as the "outside general counsel" for YEI, when they issued a statement declaring Curtis' allegations to be "categorically false" not long after we originally broke the story.

Other than The BRAD BLOG, none of the major media outlets who cited the firm's statement at the time, said to have been written by partner Michael A. O'Quinn, bothered to note in their reporting that Feeney had been a partner himself in the firm until he became a U.S. Congressman in 2002.

In one instance, O'Quinn allegedly issued a letter as "outside counsel" for YEI, threatening legal action against a local South Florida newspaper who had covered Curtis' 2004 allegations against Feeney. The letter, written on the stationery of O'Quinn's firm, was virtually (we'd say suspicously) identical to a similar threatening letter sent to the paper just days prior, on the stationery of Feeney's personal attorneys. At the time the letter was written, O'Quinn was out of the country on a cruise ship.

The allegations and evidence against Feeney --- along with the story of our own travails in investigating and reporting the story --- was detailed in the documentary film, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story, released late last year by filmmaker Patty Sharaf.

And just for yuks...This is the headline and sub-head that we didn't use for this story, but perhaps should have:

Fed Finding Figures Favorably for FL's Feeney
Rove Attny Now Reps Recently Routed Republican 'Rigger'

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.