Holy cow. When it rains it pours. Someone get us an umbrella. Quick.
Two related stories collide to suggest some possibly very bad news for our friend, the notoriously corrupt Tom Feeney (R-FL).
First this just in today from the St. Petersberg Times...:
Feeney's office said the congressman is cooperating voluntarily.
WASHINGTON - The FBI has asked U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney for information about his dealings with Jack Abramoff as part of its ongoing investigation into the lobbyist convicted of defrauding clients.
FBI agent Kevin Luebke refused to say whether Feeney, a Republican from the Orlando area, is under federal investigation.
Federal agents also have asked the St. Petersburg Times for an email sent to the newspaper by Feeney's office describing a golfing trip the congressman took with Abramoff to Scotland in 2003.
"Rep. Feeney considers this an embarrassing episode in his 17-year career as an elected official and an expensive lesson for him as a public servant," according to [a statement released by Feeney's office].
The FBI contacted the Times last week to ask for the February 2006 email that Feeney's then chief of staff Jason Roe wrote to the newspaper in response to a series of questions about interactions between Feeney and Abramoff. The Times has referred the FBI's request to its attorney.
Feeney, 48, who spent a decade in the Florida Legislature where he was speaker of the House, has paid $23,000 in legal fees this year - more than any other expense - according to his latest campaign finance reports.
"Rep. Feeney anticipates voluntarily cooperating with the Justice Department in any further investigation of this trip and looks forward to promptly resolving this matter," according to Feeney's statement.
"Any assertion that this office knew Abramoff paid for the Scotland trip is a g--d----- lie," Roe wrote in the email being sought by the FBI. The email was quoted in a newspaper article last year.
"Tom has never written a letter for Abramoff. Abramoff has never been in our office. Abramoff has never asked anything of us," Roe wrote in the email. "There is no accusation of a quid pro quo. No quid pro quo exists."
More details in the full story on what we've been reporting for years --- in what seemed like a vaccuum until now --- on Feeney's golf junkets with Abramoff to St. Andrews, Scotland. (See this May 2006 story for example: "Feeney/St. Andrews/Abramoff and Ney/HAVA/Abramoff Connections Still Flying Beneath the Radar")
There were three Congressmen who went on those trips. The first two, Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Bob Ney (R-OH), have both been forced out of Congress in the bargain and are respectively under indictment or in jail. Only Feeney, so far, has escaped both notice and legal accountability.
That may be about to change, however, with today's news that Mark Zachares, an aide to Rep. Don Young (R-AK), will plead guilty tomorrow to accepting some $30,000 worth of goods from Abramoff, with a promise of a job down the line in an interesting scheme that could also reveal something about what Feeney might have been discussing in some fashion with Abramoff.
The two men worked out a "two-year plan" in which Abramoff would build a homeland security lobbying practice that Zachares ultimately would join.
Feeney has insisted that there was never a deal for anything between him and Abramoff, unlike with DeLay and Ney. However, the notion of long term plans, such as the deal Abramoff was working on with Zachares, has never been discussed in relation to Feeney.
And as luck would have it, Zachares was on that trip with Feeney and Abramoff in 2003 and is cooperating with the feds --- all of which could spell out very bad news indeed for Feeney.
We've been covering the corrupt Congressman in great detail for years in relation to allegations by Florida computer programmer Clint Curtis that Feeney asked him to create a vote-rigging software prototype when they worked together at a software firm in 2000, while Feeney was serving as a registered lobbyist for the company even while he was Speaker of the Florida House. We originally broke that story in December 2004. A summary version is here.
Let's hope Curtis saved those "Clint Curtis for Congress" signs. He may need them again sooner than he might have thought.
As you can imagine, we'll be watching this one closely. And likely with no small amount of elan...
UPDATE 4/24/07: Feeney fingered as "Representative #3" in FBI filings. Details...
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.
- Curtis eventually ended up running for U.S. Congress against Feeney in 2006.
For more info, see: www.ClintCurtis.com