Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Feeney's Sorry. Really.


For Immediate Release, 2008

It's Time for Tom Feeney to Come Clean -- Floridians Deserve Real Apology and Real Answers

Tallahassee, FL - In a desperate political move, Representative Tom Feeney (FL-24) began airing ads "apologizing" for his Scotland Golf Junket with corrupt, convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and saying "I embarrassed myself, I embarrassed you and for that, I'm very sorry."

Unfortunately for the voters of Florida's 24th District who deserve to know the truth about Feeney's unethical actions, his new ad is long on excuses and lies, and short on the facts.

Feeney calls his connections to the convicted lobbyist a "rookie mistake."  Yet before Tom Feeney was elected in 2002, he served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (and a lobbyist at the same time), meaning he was fully aware of the way these pay-to-play trips worked.

Feeney also has the audacity to claim "I did everything I could to make it right," even though for almost a year and a half newspapers across the district have been calling on Feeney to come clean about why he is involved in an  FBI investigation.   The Orlando Sentinel wrote in April 2007, "U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney has a lot more explaining to do about his 2003 golfing trip to Scotland with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff," but Feeney has yet to 'fess up.

"What Tom Feeney should truly be embarrassed about is his continued failure to come clean about his connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his pay-to-play antics," said Eric Jotkoff, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.  "Tom Feeney owes his voters real answers about what he did for the corrupt lobbyist in exchange for his luxury trip and how much his golf junket really costs.  But instead of the facts, Feeney just offers more excuses and lies.  If anything, Feeney should apologize for this desperate, political ad."

Get all of the facts at:

Below are four headlines surrounding Feeney's 2003 Golf Trip that he still hasn't told the truth about:

Rep. Feeney sought rule change tied to Abramoff

What Feeney Says:

In an e-mail sent to the St. Petersburg Times last year, which is now being sought by the FBI, Feeney's then-chief of staff Jason Roe vehemently denied any improper relationship with Abramoff.

"Tom has never written a letter for Abramoff. Abramoff has never been in our office. Abramoff has never asked anything of us," Roe wrote. "There is no accusation of a quid pro quo. No quid pro quo exists."

The Truth:

In 2003 Feeney was among several lawmakers who wrote to the Energy Department opposing changes to a federal program that also were being fought by an Abramoff client. 

The members of Congress sent their letter in March 2003, the same week that Atofina Chemicals sent a similar letter to the department criticizing a proposed change in the federal Energy Star program that rates consumer products for energy efficiency.


E-mail details false trip data

What Feeney Says:

Feeney has maintained he did not know Abramoff coordinated the trip.

Pepper Pennington, the lawmaker's spokeswoman, said Wednesday that Feeney relied on the estimates relayed to him by the sponsor of the trip, which he thought was the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington-based conservative think tank.

The Truth:

An e-mail obtained by the St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday shows that Abramoff's office sent specific instructions on how to report the trip expenses to a handful of people, including Feeney's congressional assistant.

The e-mail, written in September 2003, a month after the trip, was sent to Feeney's then-executive assistant Eliza Baker. Others on the e-mail list included Mark Zachares, a former House aide who last week pleaded guilty to conspiracy for his relationship with Abramoff.

According to court documents, Zachares said he knew the expense details for the Scotland trip were lies coordinated by Abramoff.


Feeney trip tied to Abramoff 'slush fund'

What Feeney Says:

In a 2005 Orlando Sentinel story, Feeney, an Oviedo Republican, said he was misled about who paid for the Scotland visit. In January of this year, he used stronger language, saying he was "duped and lied to" about what he thought was a fact-finding trip with Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

"Any assertion that this office knew Abramoff paid for the Scotland trip is a g--d----- lie," Feeney's former Chief of Staff Jason Roe wrote in the email being sought by the FBI.

The Truth:

Documents obtained by the Sentinel on Thursday from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee show that Abramoff's personal charity, Capital Athletic Foundation, paid $150,226.32 for a "Scotland fundraiser" in 2003.  

The 2003 Scotland trip that included Feeney, Abramoff and six others is the only one that has come to light for that year.


Documents raise questions on trip cost

What Feeney Says:

Tom Feeney of Oviedo reported the cost of a 2003 trip to Scotland with lobbyist Jack Abramoff at $5,643. 

Feeney spokeswoman Pepper Pennington would not provide many details Wednesday when asked how Feeney derived the $5,643 figure he listed on his disclosure forms.

The Truth:

Court documents released this week show the expenses for the eight people on the trip exceeded $160,000.  If that number were divided among the eight travelers, the cost would have amounted to at least $20,000 per person -- not the figure Feeney, a Republican, reported to the House ethics committee and later agreed to pay to the U.S. Treasury after the trip was disclosed.




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