Friday, April 21, 2006

Congressman Ney's 'Good Faith'

John Byrne and I have a new Jack Abramoff related article today at Raw Story called Court filing in case of indicted Bush official suggests Ohio congressman provided false report to Congress:

A pre-trial motion filed by federal prosecutors in the case of indicted former Bush Administration official David Safavian contends that his share of the costs in a trip to play golf in Scotland and England arranged by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff should have been nearly five times more than what he paid, RAW STORY has found.

Perhaps more significantly, however, it also provides the first formal evidence that powerful Ohio Republican Bob Ney – then chairman of the House Administration Committee – provided false figures for the cost of his own trip to Scotland. Ney has been under fire for his role in allegedly helping Abramoff aid his clients in violation of House ethics rules and possibly federal laws.


David Safavian, chief of staff of the United States General Services Administration (GSA) at the time, paid Abramoff $3,100 for a trip that prosecutors say "was in excess of $130,000." According to The Washington Post, tax records show that a non-profit owned by Abramoff, the Capital Athletic Foundation, doled out $150,225 for the trip.

A footnote contained in the government’s motion for pretrial determination of certain evidence – which includes hundreds of emails between Safavian and Abramoff, which prosecutors allege prove a business relationship between the two – notes that “Mr. Safavian’s pro rated cost [for the trip] would have been approximately $15,000.”


Ney, however, was obliged under Congressional rules to provide a “good faith” estimate of his share of the trip’s actual cost.


On September 9, 2002, a month after returning from the trip, Ney filed a form with the Clerk of the House of the Representatives which indicated that his share of the trip was $3200. He reported $1,500 for travel, $1,200 for lodging and $500 for meal expenses.

According to the prosecutors’ estimate, Ney likely should have reported the trip at $15,000. Ney's office did not respond to a call placed for comment Friday.

(I'd also like to thank the brilliant Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft for forwarding me the Abramoff-Safavian E-mails that led to this story)


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