Nightline Investigation: Did a Powerful Congressman Receive Favors in Alleged 'Corruption Scheme?'

When "Nightline" asked Schwartz whether he believed it was a quid pro quo arrangement, in which a congressman was getting a certain amount of money in order to achieve a certain piece of legislation, he responded: "As I see it today, certainly yes."

"Nightline" asked him if it was a bribe. "Yes," Schwartz said.

'Absolutely Not' a Bribe

But "Nightline" got a different answer when we asked Ney's attorney Mark Tuohey, "Was this a bribe?"

"Absolutely not," Touhey said.

Congressman Ney declined "Nightline's" request for an interview, but Tuohey said Ney never agreed to influence legislation in return for campaign contributions.

"Mr. Schwartz is making an assumption that's not based on any discussion or any communication with Congressman Ney," Tuohey said. "He would never have accepted that. And Mr. Schwartz is making an assumption that is wrong."

"Nightline" asked if Ney solicited money for these efforts himself. "He did not," Tuohey answered.

Investigators are also looking at Ney's August 2002 golf outing to the famed St. Andrew's course in Scotland. The congressman few over with Abramoff and a handful of others via private jet. In June, Abramoff had sent the Tigua political consultant Marc Schwartz this e-mail: "'Our friend' asked if we could help (as in cover) a Scotland golf trip for him and some staff ... the trip will be quite expensive..."

Schwartz told "Nightline" that "our friend" referred to Bob Ney.

"Jack said many, many times that this was something that the congressman wanted very badly and that he would certainly know that the tribe was one of the benefactors in providing the trip," Schwartz said.

The Tiguas arranged for an allied tribe to pay half the estimated $100,000 cost of the trip through a charity that Abramoff controlled. Ney claims Abramoff misled him about the true source of the money. But Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who now heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, says that may be beside the point.

"In the end it doesn't actually matter who pays for the trip," Sloan said. "The fact that he solicited the trip alone is a violation of the law."

Tuohey emphatically denied the accusations to "Nightline's" Chris Bury. "He would not and did not ask for any such thing," Tuohey said. "And let me repeat, Chris, that Congressman Ney has always operated in a very proper manner. He has never solicited and was never part of any understanding or agreement to receive contributions or things of value for legislative acts. That's not the way he operated."

A few days after he returned from Scotland, Ney met with tribal leaders in his Washington office. According to several participants, Ney failed to mention that, by now, the secret plan to re-open their casino had fallen apart in Congress. But Ney did express his gratitude for the golf trip, according to the tribe's consultant.

"He absolutely told the tribe that, thank you very much for your efforts. I appreciate it. We had a great time," Schwartz said.

Questions About a Casino Cruise Line

Ney's efforts on behalf of Abramoff's tribal clients represent only one part of the federal investigation. Sources say the Justice Department is also looking into why Ney attempted to help Abramoff and his business partner in a messy deal to buy a casino cruise line in Florida.

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