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3/08/2006 

Washington's Invisible Man

An advance copy of this article appearing in the April 2006 issue of Vanity Fair can be read here.

Excerpts:
The other shoe seems poised to drop in Washington, implicating perhaps a handful of senators and congressmen, as well as their staffs, relatives, and other public officials. The most obvious target is Ney. In their heyday, he and Abramoff played golf together, traveled together, philosophized together. Ney was one of the few elected officials Abramoff invited to the BarMitzvah of one of his three sons. Now Ney says that Abramoff “duped” and “misled” him. But, according to the plea agreement, Ney threw a lucrative contract to an Abramoff client, intervened with agencies and offices to seek favors for other Abramoff interests, helped a relative of one of Abramoff’s Russian clients obtain an American visa, agreed to introduce legislation that would help reopen the Tigua casino, and, to assist Abramoff in buying the SunCruz line, read two statements into the Congressional Record, one in which he described Abramoff’s main partner in that deal, Adam Kidan—a man who’d
been disbarred, declared bankruptcy, and had Mob ties—as a man of the utmost
integrity.

For such services, Ney, according to the plea agreement, got “a stream of things of value” from Abramoff and those he represented: a “lavish” golf trip to St. Andrews, seats in Abramoff’s sports boxes, freebie dinners at Signatures (Ney was a "sushiholic," one eyewitness recalls), and at least $37,500 in donations to various political-action committees on his behalf. Rather than go for Ney immediately, prosecutors appear to be encircling him, possibly striking plea deals with frightened staffers, themselves desperate to stay out of jail.