A Wall Street Journal Washington Wire blog post reported that Rep. Tom Feeney, who, in a new ad, apologizes for a 2003 trip he took to Scotland financed by Jack Abramoff, "re-paid the $5,643 cost of the trip to the U.S. Treasury." But the blog post did not note that, according to a plea agreement by another trip attendee, the trip had "costs exceeding $160,000" for Abramoff and the seven other participants, or at least $20,000 per person.
Reporting on a new campaign ad by Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), in which Feeney apologizes for a 2003 trip he took to Scotland paid for by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, The Wall Street Journal's Easha Anand wrote in a September 25 post on the Journal's Washington Wire blog that "Feeney re-paid the $5,643 cost of the trip to the U.S. Treasury." However, Anand did not note that, according to a plea agreement entered into by another trip attendee, former congressional staffer Mark Zachares, the trip had "costs exceeding $160,000" for Abramoff and the seven other participants, or at least $20,000 per person. Further, Zachares admitted that he "falsely reported the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals as only $5,643, a figure coordinated with Abramoff to be substantially identical as the figures other attendees, including Representative #3, would report." According to media reports in 2007, Feeney was "Representative #3."
According to the "Information" -- a court document filed by the Justice Department on April 23, 2007, charging Zachares with conspiracy to commit bribery -- the costs allegedly included "private jet service between Maryland and Scotland, luxury hotel accommodations in Scotland, twice-daily golf at St. Andrews and other famous courses, meals, drinks, and local transportation."
By contrast to the Journal, Florida Today reported in a September 22 article:
Feeney joined Abramoff and six others on the golf junket. He later reimbursed the government $5,643 for the cost of his portion of the trip. However, court documents from an Abramoff-related case revealed the actual price tag of the trip to be about $160,000 -- or about $20,000 per person.
From the "Factual Basis for the Plea of Mark Dennis Zachares," signed by Zachares on March 14, 2007:
Thing of Value
13. As part of the conspiracy described in paragraph 11, the stream of things of value solicited and accepted by ZACHARES and paid for by Abramoff, his lobbying firm, and their clients in exchange for the stream of official action, included, but was not limited to, the following:
b. an all-expense-paid trip to play golf with Abramoff and six other individuals, including a Member of the United States House of Representatives ("Representative #3"), in Scotland, at St. Andrew's and other world-famous courses, in August 2003, with trip costs exceeding $160,000.
16. ZACHARES knowingly concealed and misrepresented material facts regarding his receipt of the stream of things of value from Abramoff and others by, among other things, falsifying the following forms:
a. ZACHARES' Travel Disclosure Form for 2003 Scotland Trip: On September 29, 2003, ZACHARES filed a Travel Disclosure Form with the Office of the Clerk, United States House of Representatives, which: ... falsely reported the cost of transportation, lodging, and meals as only $5,643, a figure coordinated with Abramoff to be substantially identical as the figures other attendees, including Representative #3, would report.
From the plea agreement, also signed by Zachares on March 14, 2007:
Pursuant to rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the United States of America and the defendant, Mark Dennis Zachares, agree as follows:
1. The defendant is pleading guilty freely and voluntarily without promise or benefit of any kind, other than contained herein, and without threats, force, intimidation, or coercion of any kind.
2. The defendant knowingly, voluntarily and truthfully admits the facts contained in the Factual Basis for Plea (Attachment A), which is incorporated by reference herein.
From the September 25 Washington Wire post:
Feeney's ad apologizes for a 2003 golfing trip to Scotland that the disgraced lobbyist paid for calling it "a rookie mistake."