Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) appears to have filed a false report to Congress when he estimated that a lavish 2003 golfing trip to Scotland with lobbyist Jack Abramoff cost over $5,000, according to court documents released Tuesday. The documents were filed yesterday as part of a guilty plea by Mark Zachares, a former aide to Rep. Don Young (R-AK).
According to the documents, “Abramoff’s expenses for the luxury trip averaged about $20,000 per person for each of the eight people who went.”
In his plea, Zachares admits that his travel reports were false:
Zachares had said the trip was paid for by a conservative think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, that it had cost $5,643 and that the purpose was fact finding. All three were lies, according to the documents.
Feeney, 48, an Orlando-area Republican who has been contacted by the FBI as part of the Abramoff investigation, reported precisely the same details in his travel report on the Scotland trip.
Feeney, who is being questioned by the FBI over his relationship to Abramoff, originally told Congress that the National Center for Public Policy Research had paid for his trip, claiming that he only learned later from reporters that Abramoff had paid for it. The House announced in January 2007 that Feeney would pay $5,643 to the U.S. Treasury for allowing the corrupt lobbyist to pay for the trip.
But now Zachares’ revelations raise questions about whether Feeney misled Congress when he said that his trip only cost $5,643 rather than the $20,000 Abramoff actually spent, and if not, whether he should have to pay the full $20,000.