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Ney got flight on plush, private jet

Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 27, 2006:
The luxurious private jet that ferried Ohio GOP Rep. Bob Ney and several aides on a golf trip to Scotland with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff came equipped with mahogany woodwork, plush seats, computers and a bar stocked with two bottles of red wine and a case and a half of "lite" beer, according to records released at a trial on Friday.

Ney stayed in $500 per night hotel rooms while visiting London and golfing at the world's most renowned golf courses, according to evidence presented in the case of another golfer on the trip, former General Services Administration Chief of Staff David Safavian.

Safavian is charged with lying to ethics officers and federal investigators about Abramoff's business before his agency when he got permission to go on the trip.

Prosecutors said Ney returned to the United States on a $758 commercial flight that was charged to Abramoff's personal American Express card, which violates congressional rules that ban lobbyists from paying legislators' expenses.


Prosecutors say the August 2002 trip cost about $140,000 for nine people, and the charter bill for the private Gulfstream jet alone came to more than $91,000.

A snapshot admitted into evidence showed Ney reading a newspaper aboard the plane. The trip's itinerary didn't list any official business.

Others on the trip were Abramoff's 10-year-old son, former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed, and a pair of lobbyists who worked with Abramoff, Michael E. Williams and Neil Volz, a former aide to Ney.

Earlier this month, Volz pleaded guilty to criminal charges and admitted acting as a go-between when Abramoff plied Ney with trips, free meals and gifts. Volz is scheduled to testify at Safavian's trial.