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Document updated ethics panel on since-dropped case of former congressman Feeney

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By James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009; 2:33 PM

An ethics committee weekly report obtained by The Washington Post refers to the status of a federal investigation into former congressman Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), whose case was dropped by the Justice Department after the document was created.

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The Justice Department told Feeney in August that it was dropping its two-year-old investigation after it failed in its efforts to obtain statements that Feeney's attorneys made to the House ethics panel. Those statements were not released because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District ruled in June that they were protected under the speech-and-debate clause of the Constitution.

The ethics committee document refers to the appeals court's decision, which was to be circulated among committee members.

Feeney had come under investigation for going on a golfing junket to Scotland in 2003 with then-powerhouse lobbyist Jack Abramoff months after writing a letter to the Energy Department that benefited an Abramoff client. Feeney had reported on official forms that a Washington nonprofit organization paid for the trip. The group said it had nothing to do with it. Feeney later said he was "duped and lied to" about the trip.

Abramoff is serving time in federal prison on corruption charges related to that trip and other lobbying activities.

In an agreement with Feeney, the ethics panel ruled in 2007 that Feeney's trip to Scotland violated House rules, and Feeney agreed to pay the U.S. Treasury of $5,364, an amount that he believed covered the cost of the Scotland trip. In the 2008 election, Feeney apologized in a TV ad for taking the trip, but he lost anyway to Democrat Suzanne Kosmas. A former speaker of the Florida House, Feeney registered as a lobbyist in Tallahassee in January.


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