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Four men and a golf photo

In the four years since the above photo was taken on a golf junket at St. Andrews links in Scotland, fate and government investigations have taken the smiles off the faces of these four duffers.
(Left to right, front row) Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, Rep. Bob Ney, R-OH, (back row, left to right) unidentified Scottish aide and David H. Safavian on a golf trip to St. Andrews in Scotland.
(Left to right, front row) Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, Rep. Bob Ney, R-OH, (back row, left to right) unidentified Scottish aide and David H. Safavian on a golf trip to St. Andrews in Scotland.Department Of Justice
/ Source: NBC News

In the four years since the above photo was taken, in August of 2002, on a golf junket at the famed St. Andrews links in Scotland, fate and government investigations have taken the smiles off the faces of these four duffers and many others associated with Jack Abramoff.

Jack Abramoff:
Former powerhouse Washington lobbyist, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research conservative think tank and Toward Tradition religious right organization.

Since 2002:The disgraced mega-lobbyist pleaded guilty in January to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress. He was sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison in March in Florida for his role in the SUNCRUZ casino cruise line case along with his partner Adam Kidan.

In court papers in Washington, prosecutors refer to only one congressman: Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio). But Abramoff built a political alliance with many House Republicans, including former majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas. In his plea agreement Abramoff said he would provide information and testimony about half a dozen House and Senate members. Abramoff, whose lawyer Abbe Lowell says is still cooperating with investigators, is awaiting sentencing in Washington.

Ralph Reed:
Once the powerful executive director of the Christian Coalition, he ran for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

Since 2002: On July 18, after a barrage of campaign commercials by his primary opponent highlighting his association with Abramoff, his campaign collapsed. Abramoff was a long-time friend from their days running the College Republicans in the early 1980s. 

In 1998, a few days after the election, Reed reached out to Abramoff in an e-mail, "Hey, now that I'm done with electoral politics, I need to start humping in corporate accounts! I'm counting on you to help me with some contacts." Abramoff saw an opportunity: he suggested a grassroots effort and recommended the Choctaw a tribe in Louisiana hire Reed to orchestrate an anti-gaming effort.  The Senate Indian Affairs Committee found that Abramoff arranged for Reed to be paid over $5 million by Indian tribes that ran casinos to coordinate anti-gambling campaigns against competing tribal casinos.

David Safavian:
The former head of federal procurement in the White House Office of Management and Budget, and before that an official at the Government Services Administration.

Since 2002: Safavian was found guilty by a federal jury June 20 on four counts of lying and obstruction in an inquiry into Abramoff's activities specifically dealing with the 2002 Scotland golf junket.

His was the first trial to emerge from the Abramoff Washington influence-peddling scandal. E-mails between Abramoff and Safavian show that prior to the Scotland trip, the lobbyist was interested in securing leases to two GSA controlled properties. The e-mails indicate that Safavian assisted Abramoff with information on the Old Post Office, and a former Naval Surface Weapons facility, White Oak, in suburban Maryland. Neil Volz, another member of the 2002 Scotland golf party, and former chief of staff to Congressman Bob Ney was the government's star witness against Safavian. Volz also pleaded guilty to charges of bribing government officials and agreed to cooperate in the investigation.  Safavian is scheduled to be sentenced in October.

Rep. Bob Ney, R-OH:
Former Chairman House Administration Committee, the committee charged with overseeing lobbying reform.

Since 2002: Ney maintained he would run for re-election, even though he was implicated with Abramoff, and his former chief of staff had pleaded guilty and was cooperating with investigators, Ney, a six-term congressman, is the final public figure of the 2002 Scotland trip to have his career ruined over the Abramoff connection.

On August 7, 2006, he formally requested that his name be removed from the November election ballot. Ney cited the strain of the Justice Department's influence peddling investigation as a reason for his dropping out. In a statement last week Ney wrote, "Ultimately this decision came down to my family. I must think of them first, and I can no longer put them through this ordeal." He denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged.

Tigua Of El Paso

Senate investigators allege Ney helped one of Abramoff's Tribal clients. Ney, who was interviewed by Senate Indian Affairs committee in 2004, denied trying to insert a provision into election reform legislation in 2002 - just before the Scotland trip - to help Abramoff's client, the Tigua, an Indian tribe in south Texas. Ney even told the committee then, that "he was not familiar with the Tigua." But the report quotes tribal representatives as testifying that they did in fact meet with Ney for more than 2 hours in August 2002 and he assured them he could help with legislation.  Ney testified he "could not recall ever meeting with any member of the Tigua." Ney telling the committee, "wouldn't even meet with the President for two hours." But, Ney's lawyer later told the committee that the congressman's schedule for that day showed a half-hour meeting with the "Taqua." And a photo, obtained by NBC News, from the Tigua's - showing Ney and tribal council members with the congressman in August 2002, confirms the Capitol Hill meeting.

Future prospects
Department of Justice investigators are getting help in the Washington influence-peddling probe from Abramoff himself, former congressman Tom DeLay's staffers Michael Scanlon and Tony C. Rudy and former Ney chief of staff Neil G. Volz, all of whom have pleaded guilty to various charges. Another guilty plea last week by a former Interior Department official, Roger Stillwell, marked an expansion of the government's ongoing investigation into the web of influence surrounding the former mega-lobbyist.

Joel Seidman is an NBC Producer based in Washington, DC