Tigua Of El Paso
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, with members of the Tigua of El Paso in a photo taken in August 2002.
By Producer
NBC News
updated 9/19/2006 12:57:13 PM ET 2006-09-19T16:57:13

The Texas Native American tribe who contributed $50,000 to Jack Abramoff's non-profit, the Capitol Athletic Foundation (CAF) - money which paid for a portion of an August 2002 golf junket to Scotland for Rep Bob Ney, R-OH, in exchange for lifting a ban on their gaming casinos - had harsh words for Ney's Washington pleading.

That golf trip also included Abramoff, Ralph Reed and convicted former White House procurement officer, David Safavian.

The Alabama-Coushatta tribe's Chairperson, Jo Ann Battise, in a statement said, "Congressman Ney's guilty plea is further evidence of this tragic chain of events. We also believe that Congressman Ney's guilty plea serves to confirm and illustrate the numerous wrongful actions which the Tribe has alleged in its suit against Jack Abramoff and others."

'Line their pockets with money'
In July, the tribe filed suit in Texas alleging that disgraced lobbyist Abramoff, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed and their associates engaged in fraud and racketeering to shut down the tribe's casino.

Their lawsuit alleges Abramoff, Reed and their associates defrauded the tribe simply to "line their pockets with money."

"Ultimately, the defendants' greed and corruption led to the Alabama-Coushatta tribe permanently shutting its casino. The funding for economic programs evaporated, over 300 jobs were lost in Polk County and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe has spent years struggling to recover and revitalize its economy through other means," the tribe said in their lawsuit.

In a plea agreement for Ney, filed Friday in Federal court in Washington, the government said the total cost for the 2002 golf trip to Scotland, "exceeded $160,000, without including the airline tickets NEY purchased with government funds to fly from near his home in Ohio to the Washington, D.C. area, where Ney boarded the private jet for Scotland."

Christian against Christian
The Alabama-Coushatta said Abramoff and others conspired to defeat a bill in the 2001 Texas Legislature that would have allowed it to operate gaming on its reservation.

Reed helped to rally Christians against the bill with a group he formed, Committee Against Gambling, the tribe alleged.

The tribe, which says it has strong Christian values, alleges Reed's group called state legislators, sent targeted mailings to voters and ran radio ads against the bill without revealing their true origins, preventing the tribe from fighting back.

"They pitted Christian against Christian, tribe against tribe and cousin against cousin," the tribe said.

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Later, in 2002, in what could be called a classic double-cross, Abramoff promised both the Alabama-Coushatta and the Tigua of El Paso that he would pressure Ney to add language to legislation that would have reopened both tribe's casinos .

Ney's pleading agreement states that in 2002, "NEY repeatedly agreed to take official action to insert various amendments into election reform legislation at Abramoff's request."

But unknown to the two Texas tribes, Scanlon and Abramoff were representing another tribe in Louisiana pursuing anti-gaming efforts in Texas against the Tigua and the Alabama Coushatta.

Ney promised the tribes he would insert an amendment into the election reform bill on their behalf, "lifting the gaming ban." But the legislation was never enacted.

Less than a week after the Scotland trip, representatives of the Tigua met with Ney at his office on Capitol Hill on August 14th.

And in February 2003, Ney agreed to ask the chairman of another committee of the House of Representatives to insert into different legislation the amendment lifting the gaming ban. Again, nothing came of his action. But according to the government's account, in the court filing, Ney was repeatedly feted by Abramoff at his restaurant, and brought, all expenses paid, to sporting events and vacations.

Abramoff, Scanlon and former Ney aide Neil Volz have pleaded guilty in the public corruption probe involving Abramoff's former tribal clients. David Safavian was convicted by a federal jury in June of lying about the Scotland trip - and Abramoff's connections to it - to investigators. Ney is scheduled to formally accept the plea agreement in a court hearing October 13th.

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