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hang a left Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-15-06 06:21 PM
Original message
Lobbying: The Web Widens
Edited on Sun Jan-15-06 06:22 PM by hang a left
Lobbying: The Web Widens


Jan. 23, 2006 issue - Ohio Rep. Robert Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran. Who asked him to? A convicted airplane broker who had just taken the congressman and a top aide on an expense-paid trip to London, NEWSWEEK has learned. Ney's lawyer confirmed to NEWSWEEK that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records on Ney's February 2003 trip paid for by Nigel Winfield, a thrice-convicted felon who ran a company in Cyprus called FN Aviation. Winfield was seeking to sell U.S.-made airplane spare parts to the Iranian governmenta deal that would have needed special permits because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran. Ney's lawyer, Mark Tuohey, said Ney had no idea of Winfield's criminal past, which included a 1982 conviction for trying to swindle Elvis Presley in an airplane deal and two more in the late 1980s for tax evasion. Tuohey said there was "absolutely nothing improper" about Ney's raising the issue of Iranian sanctions with Powell and other Bush administration officials. At the time, there had been a number of civilian plane crashes in Iran attributable to a lack of spare parts. Ney, who had a longstanding interest in Iran, considered easing sanctions to allow spare-parts sales a "humanitarian" matter, Tuohey said.

The Justice Department subpoenas of Ney's travel records grew out of the Jack Abramoff lobbying case. Ney is identified in Abramoff's recent plea agreement as "Representative #1," who allegedly agreed to intervene on behalf of one of Abramoff's Indian tribal clients after receiving political contributions and an earlier all-expense-paid golfing trip to Scotland arranged by Abramoff. The Iranian airline deal shows how the Abramoff case is already expanding into a broader investigation into D.C. lobbying practices. Ney was introduced to Winfield by lobbyists Roy Coffee, a former legislative aide to the then Gov. George W. Bush, and David DiStefano, who had previously been Ney's chief of staff. Coffee and DiStefano (who did not respond to requests for comment) arranged for Ney and a staff member to fly over to London, where Winfield and his Syrian-born business partner, Fouad Al-Zayat, pitched the congressman on their business plan. Back in Washington, Ney talked to Powell, Tuohey said. But "nothing ever came of it," Tuohey said, because the company's deal fell through. Spokespeople for Powell and the State and Commerce departments (which administer U.S. trade sanctions) had no immediate responses to requests for comment.

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Danieljay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-15-06 06:34 PM
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1. wow...I hope these bastards hang...
that being said, I'm not getting my hopes too high. Like the rest of the scandals...i'm afraid they will simply disappear.
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pinerow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-15-06 06:44 PM
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2. The plot thickens...
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-15-06 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Indeed! n/t
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boobooday Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-15-06 07:13 PM
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3. He had NO IDEA
He was dealing with a criminal!

He's shocked! Shocked, I tell you!
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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-15-06 08:09 PM
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5. Roy Coffee, legislative aide to Governor bush ...
... introduced Ney to Winfield.

A very interesting connect-the-dots article from December 9, 2005:

But a previously unreported link has emerged between the Heath Republican and the British company that had an office in Cyprus: FN Aviation employed a pair of lobbyists with ties to Ney.

The same year FN Aviation spent $2,700 on Neys trip, it paid $20,000 to a former Ney chief of staff turned lobbyist, David DiStefano, to monitor Capitol Hill trade legislation, records show.

The company also paid $220,000 in 2003 for similar services from another lobbyist, Roy C. Coffee, who now works with DiStefano, according to the congressional lobby disclosure records.

Between the two of them, DiStefano and Coffee have given about $20,000 to Neys campaign.

It gets even better, keep reading: DiStefano and Coffee now work together in the new Washington office of Locke Liddell & Sapp, the Texas-based law firm of White House Counsel Harriet Miers.

Oh, my, if it isn't another "fabulous" co-inky-dink in the long and sordid history of george w. bush.
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