Ney was “not particularly interested in the trip and he’s not really a golfer at all,” Tuohey said. There was a dinner meeting with members of Scottish Parliament and one with U.S. military officials there, as well as a planned meeting with members of the Conservative Party in London that was eventually cancelled.
“They were explicitly told this trip was an official business trip,” Tuohey added.
Tuohey and Lawler said that Ney paid his own way on the trips to Arizona, New Orleans and Lake George, adding that at least with the Lake George trip, it was viewed as two friends vacationing together. “It was purely personal in nature,” Lawler said.
The legal team acknowledged that Ney may have accepted some meals and drinks from Abramoff or his lobbyists, but Tuohey portrayed those “very infrequent” occasions as small personal gestures that had nothing to do with Ney’s actions as a lawmaker.
The main thrust of the Ney defense is that Abramoff, in his effort to secure the lightest possible prison sentence, has been overselling his influence with Ney to prosecutors who are hungry to ring up corruption convictions against Members of Congress.
“I think the government’s been sold a bill of goods by Mr. Abramoff,” Tuohey said, later adding former DeLay aides Mike Scanlon and Tony Rudy into that allegation. “They’re singing for their supper.”
Ney told Fox News that Abramoff, Rudy and Scanlon are offering evidence against him because “they are attempting to stay out of prison.”
But any testimony from Volz against Ney would be particularly damaging because of his close relationship with the lawmaker. Notably, neither Ney in his statement nor his lawyers attacked Volz’s credibility Monday.
And Volz’s plea agreement, along with other court filings unveiled Monday, accuses Ney of taking a long series of actions to benefit Abramoff in exchange for a “stream of things of value.”
Those actions include meeting with and talking to Tigua tribal leaders several times while Ney was trying to reopen their casino. Volz has now testified that he served as a middle man between Abramoff and Ney for some of those discussions, relaying information that the lobbyist wanted the lawmaker to tell his client because their deal was falling apart as the tribal issue was being rejected by Senate negotiators.
In April 2003, Ney co-sponsored legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to an Abramoff client, Chief Phillip Martin of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws. Martin was one of Abramoff’s most important clients, according to the Justice Department.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.