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5/31/2006 

Ney lied about trip, says Republican's former aide

Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 31, 2006:
Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney never met with Scottish members of parliament during a golf trip to Scotland, even though he subsequently signed travel disclosure forms that claimed such a meeting occurred, Ney's former chief of staff told a jury Tuesday.

Neil Volz went to work for lobbyist Jack Abramoff in February 2002 after leaving Ney's office and accompanied them both to Scotland in August 2002. His testimony took place in the trial of another golfer on the trip: former General Services Administration chief of staff David Safavian. Safavian is accused of falsely claiming that Abramoff had no business ties with the GSA when Savafian got permission to visit Scotland with the group.

Volz said much of the trip consisted of golfing, drinking and smoking cigars. The group, which included two Ney aides and former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, stayed in hotels that cost as much as $500 nightly. Golf and caddy fees at the elite courses they visited came to $400 per person per game. A single round of drinks cost $100. On the private jet that ferried them to Scotland, they dined on sushi from Abramoff's restaurant.

Ney was originally scheduled to eat dinner with Scottish parliamentarians early in the trip, but the appointment fell through. Ney later scrambled to arrange a meeting in a London parliamentary building so he could claim the trip was for official business, Volz testified.

Afterward, Volz said he filled out a sample travel disclosure form for Ney that listed the trip's cost at $3,200, a low amount that Volz believed wouldn't cause media scrutiny. Volz suggested that Ney cite visits with the Scottish parliamentarians, attending the Edinburgh Military Tattoo with Queen Elizabeth II, and visiting British parliamentarians as the trip's official purpose. The forms that Ney filed with the House of Representatives used Volz' wording, minus the royal reference.
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