By Alexander Bolton - 08/01/09 02:53 PM EDT
Feeney, who previously served as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, came to national prominence during the 2000 presidential recount when he spearheaded a drive to certify former President George W. Bush as the state's winner. Feeney, an outspoken conservative, was once considered a rising star in the House GOP conference.
“Everybody that loves Tom is glad that it’s over with but still feel a lot of frustration that it dragged out as long as it did and cost him his seat in Congress,” said Jason Roe, who served as Feeney’s chief of staff in the House.
“Too bad it took the Obama Justice Department to clean up the Bush Justice Department mess,” he added.
Feeney lost his seat last November to Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.), who hammered Feeney over his ties to Abramoff. Kosmas beat Feeney 57 to 41 percent.
The Justice Department's investigation stemmed from a trip Feeney took during his first year in Congress with Abramoff, who was later indicted on corruption charges.
The House ethics committee reprimanded Feeney over the trip and he agreed to pay $5,643 to the Treasury for his share of its cost.
The federal investigation became known publicly after FBI agents contacted several Florida newspapers to inquire about Feeney.
Roe said his former boss would “keep an eye” on Florida’s next round of redistricting” but expressed doubt that Feeney would run again for Congress.
“I think he’s pretty warn out after what he’s gone through,” said Roe. “I don’t expect that he would do anything immediately."