We may be seeing the final days of the worst hairpiece in Congress.
A Congressional aide-turned-lobbyist testified on Tuesday that he had prepared a travel disclosure statement for a Republican House member that intentionally understated the cost of the lawmaker’s lavish 2002 golfing trip to Scotland with the now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The lobbyist, Neil G. Volz, said in testimony before a federal jury in Washington that he had talked with the lawmaker, Representative Bob Ney of Ohio, before providing Mr. Ney’s office with a copy of the statement, which he said falsely listed the cost of Mr. Ney’s trip that summer as $3,200. Before joining Mr. Abramoff’s lobbying firm, Mr. Volz had been Mr. Ney’s chief of staff.
Appearing as a government witness at the trial of David H. Safavian, a former White House aide accused of lying about his ties to Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Volz said he knew the $3,200 figure was too low, especially given the use of a chartered Gulfstream jet and $500-a-night hotel rooms.
But he said he provided the number to Mr. Ney because it was modest enough not to attract the attention of reporters and others who might see the disclosure form.
“I thought that number passed the smell test,” Mr. Volz said.
Mr. Ney later filed a disclosure form with the House clerk’s office that cited the $3,200 figure and misidentified the trip’s sponsor, a violation of House ethics rules if he provided the false information knowingly.
Mr. Volz’s testimony also suggested that Mr. Ney, his former boss on Capitol Hill, was eager to help Mr. Abramoff’s lobbying clients in exchange for gifts, including the five-day golfing trip to Scotland. Mr. Volz said that in one instance Mr. Ney offered to help rewrite legislation to help Mr. Abramoff win control of government-owned land in Maryland, which the lobbyist wanted to use for a Jewish day school he had founded.
During Mr. Volz’s testimony on Tuesday, the Justice Department placed in evidence a photograph taken at the start of the golfing trip, showing a smiling Mr. Ney in white shorts and untucked shirt standing on the tarmac of Baltimore-Washington International Airport in front of the chartered Gulfstream jet that would take him to Scotland.
Standing alongside him were Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Volz, as well as Mr. Safavian and Ralph Reed, the former leader of the Christian Coalition and a close friend of Mr. Abramoff. While Mr. Reed has denied any wrongdoing in his multimillion-dollar consulting work with Mr. Abramoff, their ties are a central issue in his campaign this year to become lieutenant governor of Georgia, his home state.
UPDATE: Here is the phot, via ABC News.