Bob Ney

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Bob Ney formerly served the 18th Congressional district of Ohio

Robert William Ney is a Republican who formerly served as a U.S. Representative from Ohio's 18th District. (map). He delivered his resignation to Congress on Friday, November 3, 2006. [1]

Before the Jack Abramoff investigations became news in 2005 (see below), Ney was best known for his work on the election reform efforts founded in the wake of the confused 2000 voting in Florida, and his support and backing for the Stand Up For Steel crusade and resulting laws.

Until January 15, 2006, Ney was Chairman of the House Committee on House Administration. As chair of that committee, he oversaw operations in the Capitol complex and was sometimes known as the "Mayor of Capitol Hill." His temporary resignation came in the face of allegations in the Abramoff scandal. [2]

Bio

Ney was born July 5, 1954 in Wheeling, West Virginia. The son of a TV cameraman, he grew up in Bellaire, Ohio. He received a bachelor of sciences degree from Ohio State University in 1976. After college, he worked as a teacher and as a public safety director for the municipal government of Bellaire. He then worked for the Ohio Office of Appalachia as program manager for health and education. [3]

Political career

State Official

Ney beat the scandal-plagued Wayne Hays in a 1980 election, when he was 26, and served as an Ohio state representative from 1981 to 1983 and as an Ohio state senator from 1985 to 1995. Ney gained the support of union workers, a traditionally Democratic constituency, during his time in state government. During those years, he also accepted honorariums, in the form of personal checks, and free travel from lobbyists and business interests, which was legal at the time. In one instance the state investigated honoraria given to Ohio lawmakers, including Ney, by lobbyists. Ney stated his policy on honoraria at the time to the Dayton Daily News, "My policy (on honoraria) usually has been that if it's something in Columbus that involves a panel, I (accept it) ... This one did not involve a panel but it did involve enough corporate people and I spent enough of my time that I felt comfortable with it." (Dayton Daily News, 1/25/94)

During Ney's term as a state Senator he also came under fire for his actions in connection with a former staffer-turned-lobbyist Tom Strussion, a story that would play out again later in Ney's career. Strussion became a lobbyist after working as an aide to Ney for 2.5 years. As a lobbyist he worked to push the merger of Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates throughout Ohio. Ney introduced a bill in the state Senate to do just. When Strussion was working on behalf of Ohio Association of Private Investigators to eliminate a sales tax on investigators Ney introduced a bill to do just that. (The Columbus Dispatch, 8/28/94)

Strussion, who had been involved in the aforementioned honorarium investigation, which led to new rules governing ethics and lobbying, eventually went to jail on bribery charges in 1998. (Plain Dealer, 6/12/98)

Congress 1994-2000

In 1994, Ney was narrowly elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He defeated state Rep. Greg DiDinato 54%-46% after a campaign in which each candidate accused the other of being too close to lobbyists. DiDinato accused Ney of receiving honoraria from lobbyists while Ney attacked DiDinato for sharing an apartment with a cable TV lobbyist. He faced another close election in 1996, but won 60 percent of the vote in 1998 and has not faced a difficult race since. His voting record is considerably more moderate than has become typical of Republicans elected in 1994.

In 1995 Ney co-sponsored the Ney/Kasich amendment to the welfare reform bill. The Ney/Kasich amendment "require[d] able bodied food stamp recipients between ages 18 and 51 to work 20 hours a week for their benefits." (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6/19/96) The Ney/Kasich amendment was the only amendment added to the welfare reform bill.

In 1997 Ney fought off a proposed 50% cut in the Black Lung Clinic program included in President Bill Clinton's spending budget. Ney successfully increased the program's budget from $4 million to $5 million. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/21/97)

Congress 2001-2004

In 2001, Ney was one of three Republicans to vote against the USA Patriot Act. He joined Butch Otter of Idaho and Ron Paul of Texas in casting dissenting votes with 62 Democrats.

In 2003 Ney, along with Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), led an effort to change the name of "french fries" in the House cafeteria to "freedom fries". The name change occurred when France came out as staunch opponent of a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Ney stated at the time, "This action today is a small, but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France."[4]

Congress 2005-2006

Ney's last term in office was dominated by scandals that eventually led to his retirement and guilty plea on corruption charges. See the controversy section of this article for details.

Meet the Cash Constituents

Links to more campaign contribution information for Bob Ney
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Controversy

Guilty plea on corruption charges

On September 13, 2006, Ney became the first lawmaker to publicly admit wrongdoing in the Jack Abramoff scandal when he pleaded guilty to corruption charges. [5]

Ney pleaded guilty to accepting gifts, vacation trips, meals, sports tickets, campaign contributions, hosted campaign fundraisers and thousands of dollars in gambling chips from Jack Abramoff and his team of lobbyists and—separately—a Syrian-born businessman, in exchange for various legislative favors. Ney also pleaded guilty to conspiring to help Neil Volz, one of his former staffers, violate the one year "revolving door" ban on lobbying by departing congressional staffers. [6]

The proffer for the plea agreement, which Ney signed, states that:

"Beginning in or about 2000 and continuing through April 2004, Ney and his coconspirators, using mail and interstate wire communications, engaged in a conspiracy to deprive the public of the honest services of Ney and members of his staff, to commit false statements, and to aid and abet Volz's violation of his one-year lobbying ban. That is, Ney and members of his staff corruptly solicited and accepted a stream of things of value from Abramoff, Scanlon, Volz, Rudy, and other lobbyists working for Abramoff... and the Foreign Businessman with the intent to be influenced and induced to take a series of official actions and to agree to perform a series of official actions." [7]

The specific charges Ney pleaded guilty to are:

  1. One count of conspiracy to violate the following federal laws in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371:
    1. honest services wire and mail fraud, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1341, 1343 and 1346,
    2. making false statements in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, and
    3. post-employment restrictions for former Congressional staff members, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 207(e).
  2. One count of making false statements in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. [8]

The extent of Ney's activities with Abramoff and the Syran-born businessman, whom the Associated Press identified as Fouad al-Zayat, are detailed below. [9]

Related Resources:

Jack Abramoff scandal

Bribes accepted by Ney from Abramoff

Ney's factual proffer states that "Ney and members of his staff corruptly solicited and accepted a stream of things of value from Abramoff, Scanlon, Volz, Rudy and other lobbyists working for Abramoff." These things of value included:

Over $170,700 in travel junkets
The proffer cites:

"All-expense-paid and reduced-price trips to play golf with seven others in Scotland in August 2002, with total trip costs exceeding $160,000; to gamble and vacation with three others in New Orleans in May 2003, with total trip costs of approximately $7,200; and to vacation with four others at Lake George, New York in August 2003, with trip costs paid by the lobbyists exceeding $3,500." [10]

Meals and drinks
The proffer cites:

"Numerous meals and drinks at Washington, D.C., area restaurants, primarily at Signatures." [11]

Sports and concert tickets
The proffer cites:

"Numerous tickets for Ney and his staff to use Abramoffs box suites to attend sporting events and concerts in the Washington, D.C., area. Ney controlled the receipt and use of tickets by his staff." [12]

Campaign contributions
The proffer cites:

"Substantial campaign contributions from Abramoff's clients for whom Ney had agreed to perform official acts." [13]

Fundraiser accommodations
The proffer cites:

"In-kind campaign contributions in the form of the free use of, catering for, and tickets to Abramoff's luxury box suites at the MCI Center Arena and Camden Yards Stadium or Signatures restaurant on at least eight occasions for political fundraisers, which use was not properly reported to the Federal Election Commission as required by law." [14]

Ney and the Abramoff Indian gambling scandal

Ney was part of Abramoff's scheme to bribe government officials to further the interests of American Indian tribes with gambling interests while also defrauding the tribes. This scheme was at the root of Abramoff's January 3, 2006 guilty plea to three felony charges—conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion—which included Ney as "Representative #1". [15] [16]

Ney's plea agreement states that "in exchange for things of value, Ney took and agreed to take a stream of official action benefitting Abramoff and his lobbyists and their clients, none of whom were Ohio-based." [17] Among the actions related to Abramoff's Indian gaming clients that Ney took were:

  1. Ney's plea agreement states that "Ney agreed to and did garner support for, support, and oppose legislation at Abramoff's request, including agreeing to insert amendments at Abramoff's request into the election reform legislation known as the Help America Vote Act ("HAVA"), specifically the following:
    1. "On March 20, 2002, an amendment to lift an existing federal ban against commercial gaming by a Texas Native American Tribal client of Abramoff ("Texas Tribe #1");"
    2. "In July 2002, an amendment to lift an existing federal ban against commercial gaming by another Texas Native American Tribe ("Texas Tribe #2")." [18]
  2. Ney's plea agreement states that "at various times from 2001 through 2003, Ney contacted personnel in United States Executive Branch agencies and offices in an effort to influence decisions of those agencies and offices at the request of Abramoff and his lobbyists, including meeting with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and identifying as Ney's number one priority Native American Indian Tribal housing." [19]
Ney and Abramoff client Tigua tribe

On June 23, 2006, the Washington Post reported that in November 2004, Ney told staffers on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that he was, "not at all familiar with the Tigua," a Texas Indian tribe represented by Jack Abramoff. Six days after the interview, however, Tigua representatives testified at a committee hearing that Abramoff had set up a meeting with Ney.In reference to the meeting, Tigua representatives stated that Ney had assured the tribe that he was working to add language that would reopen their casino into an unrelated election reform bill. paid $100,000 for the expenses. [20].

According to the Plain Dealer, this meeting occured on August 14, 2002, a few days after Ney and two aids came back from a trip in Scotland with convicted felon David Safavian, Jack Abramoff, former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, and two lobbyists from Abramoff's firm.[21] According to Tigua Lt. Governor Carlos Hisa, this trip was to be paid for by his tribe. Hisa claims that his tribe was requested to pay $50,000 for it and when his tribe refused, two other tribal clients of Abramoff's paid $100,000 for the expenses. [22]

In that year, Abramoff and the tribe became Ney's biggest donors, contributing $47,500 to his campaign committees. When asked about the contradiction, a spokesman for Ney said that in his interview with the Senate committee, Ney did not initially recognize the name of the tribe. [23]

SunCruz Casinos Scandal

Ney is also implicated in the separate Abramoff SunCruz Casinos scandal. Ney made statements in the Congressional Record critical of the management of SunCruz prior to the takeover bid launched by Abramoff and partners and made further statements praising the new management after the deal was completed. Ney stated, "Mr. Speaker, how SunCruz Casinos and Gus Boulis conduct themselves with regard to Florida laws is very unnerving. Florida authorities have repeatedly reprimanded SunCruz Casinos and its owner Gus Boulis for taking illegal bets, not paying their customers properly and had to take steps to prevent SunCruz from conducting operations altogether." Scanlon's accusations indicate this was intended to pressure SunCruz to sell to Abramoff on terms favorable to the latter. The text of Abramoff's agreement is at Political Money Line [24].

The allegations are that Ney was under pressure to raise money for the National Republican Congressional Committee. In an October 23 2000 e-mail from Abramoff to Scanlon, Abramoff asked "Would 10K for NRCC from Suncruz for Ney help?" Scanlon replied, "Yes, alot! But would have to give them a definate answer--and they need it this week..." Scanlon wrote a proposed statement for Ney. The money was sent within days, and Ney got credit within the GOP for raising it. Ney then inserted praise for Kidan into the October 26 Congressional Record. [25]

Ney agreed with Florida prosecutors to a six-month extension of the statute of limitations for the prosecutors to look at bringing charges against Ney for his actions. On Thursday April 27, 2006 Ney refused to agree to another six-month extension and so the statute of limitations passed without any charges being brought against Ney. Ney called this a victory that proved that he "has never done anything illegal". [26]

However, the Justice Department had been in negotiations with the Miami U.S. Attorney's office and had decided that "any case would be brought in the District."[27]

Ney-Abramoff investigation timeline

  • November 21, 2005: Michael Scanlon, a former aide to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy in the Abramoff scandal. Scanlon also agreed to pay $19.7 million in restitution for kickbacks he received in the conspiracy to defraud his and Abramoff's clients. The plea agreement detailed a "stream of things of value" as bribes to an unnamed congressman "to perform a series of official acts." The unnamed congressman was identified by outside ources as Ney. [28]
  • November 26, 2005: The Washington Post reports that Ney and his former chief of staff Neil Volz had already been told by prosecutors "that they are preparing a possible bribery case against them. [29]
  • January 3, 2006: Abramoff pleads guilty to three felony counts—conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion—involving charges stemming principally from his lobbying activities in Washington on behalf of Native American tribes. [30] One of the cases of bribery described in detail involves a person identified as "Representative #1," whom Ney's spokesman confirmed was Ney but denied any wrongoing. [31] Also named in the indictment are two Abramoff colleagues, including "Staffer B," who assisted Abramoff's illegal lobbying efforts on behalf of various clients. Staffer B was Ney's former chief of staff, Neil Volz, who later lobbied for Barnes & Thornburg. [32]. Three days after Abramoff's plea, Volz resigned from Barnes & Thornburg [33].
  • May 17, 2006: The House Ethics Committee, which had been sidelined for 16 months, opened up an investigation into allegations that Ney received things of value from Jack Abramoff in exchange for favorable action in Congress.[34]
  • May 8, 2006: Neil G. Volz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, including wire fraud and violating House rules. According to a prosecutors, "the purpose of the conspiracy was for defendant Volz and his co-conspirators to unjustly enrich themselves by corruptly receiving, while public officials, and providing, while lobbyists, a stream of things of value with the intent to influence and reward official acts and attempting to influence members of Congress in violation of the law." After Volz left Ney's office he went to work for Abramoff's lobbying firm. [35] At the time, it was the fourth guilty plea to implicate Ney. The others were the pleas of Jack Abramoff and two former aides to former Republican House Majority Leader and Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, Michael Scanlon and Tony Rudy. [36]
  • May 30, 2006: Volz told a federal jury that as Ney’s chief of staff on Capitol Hill, he frequently was provided tickets to sporting events, concerts, as well as free meals, in return for granting special treatment to “lobbying buddies.” Upon leaving Ney’s office to work for Abramoff, he began playing the opposite role, seeking preferential treatment through bribing members of Congress. Volz also provided insight regarding land in which Abramoff sought to relocate a Jewish academy in White Oak, Maryland. According to Volz, Ney agreed to try and attach language serving this end onto an election reform bill, which already included provisions seeking to aid a Texas Indian tribe represented by Abramoff. [37]
  • August 7, 2006: The Justice Department announced that it will review documents related to an interview that Ney gave to Senate investigators in 2004 concerning his relationship with Abramoff. [38]

Ney Aide Pleads Guilty

Neil G. Volz went to work for Ney in January 1995 when Ney first entered the House. Volz served as Ney's Communications Director and then Chief of Staff until February 2002, when he left to work with Jack Abramoff as a lobbyist at the Greenberg Traurig lobbying firm. Volz was also the Staff Director for the House Administration Committee, which Ney chaired, from January 2001 until February 2002. [39] [40] [41]

Volz pleaded guilty on May 8, 2006 to one count of conspiracy, including wire fraud and violating House rules. According to a prosecutors, "the purpose of the conspiracy was for defendant Volz and his co-conspirators to unjustly enrich themselves by corruptly receiving, while public officials, and providing, while lobbyists, a stream of things of value with the intent to influence and reward official acts and attempting to influence members of Congress in violation of the law." After Volz left Ney's office he went to work for Abramoff's lobbying firm. [42]

At the time, it was the fourth guilty plea to implicate Ney. The others were the pleas of Jack Abramoff and two former aides to former Republican House Majority Leader and Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, Michael Scanlon and Tony Rudy. [43]

Volz' Factual Proffer provides a full account of what Bob Ney - referred to as 'Representative #1' - did at the behest of Jack Abramoff. Aside from Ney's alleged insertion of statements into the Congressional Record the congressman is accused of the following actions in Volz' Proffer:

1) Ney "agreed to support legislation which would have permitted manufacturers in the CNMI [Northern Mariana Islands] to attach "Made in the USA" labels to their goods while exempting the manufacturers from compliance with federal labor standards applicable to manufacturers operating inside the 50 states".[44]
2) Ney "and Volz met with Abramoff and one of his clients, agreeing to help the client pursue a license to install wireless infrastructure in the buildings of the House of Representatives". (Ney was chairman of the House Administration Committee and had final authority on granting a contract)[45]
3) Ney agreed to "introduce and seek passage of legislation that would lift an existing federal ban against commercial gaming by a client of Abramoff and Scanlon in Texas". Ney also agreed to seek the same legislation for a second tribal client of Abramoff and Scanlon.[46]
4) Ney "agreed to sign a letter opposing the creation of commission to study Indian gaming".[47]
5) Ney "agreed to assist Abramoff in efforts to obtain property and rights to property from the United States General Services Administration ("GSA") for Abramoff's private school".[48]
6) Ney, after being told by Volz what Abramoff wanted him to say, "met with Abramoff and representatives from Texas Tribe #1 and assured" the tribe that "they were effectively represented by Abramoff" and that he would continue to pursue their legislation.[49] Later, Ney would speak with representatives from Texas Tribe #1 a second time after Volz told him what Abramoff wanted him to say. Ney then sought the help of another Member of another Committee to push the legislation desired by Texas Tribe #1.[50]
7) Ney met with representatives of a Indian tribe from California represented by Abramoff and Scanlon and agreed to "assist in passing legislation regarding taxation of certain payments received by members of the California Tribe, and to assist in an issue relating to a post office of interest to the California Tribe."[51]
8) Ney "agreed to co-sign a letter to other Congressmen to garner support for awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to one of Abramoff's most important clients".[52]
9) Ney "contacted public officials at executive branch agencies and offices on behalf of clients of Abramoff and other in an attempt to influence decisions and actions by those officials".[53]

Also named in Ney's factual proffer was "Staffer C", who was identified by The Hill as Will Heaton, Ney's recent Chief of Staff. [54] Heaton was Ney's Executive assistant on the House Administration Committee from September 2001 to February 2002, when he succeeded Volz as Ney's Chief of staff. [55]

Suspension of Ney awarded contract

On September 28, 2006, House leaders suspended a contract that Ney had awarded to MobileAccess (formerly known as Foxcom Wireless) to install wireless telephone antennaes in House office buildings. They did so on the advice of federal prosecutors who claimed that Ney awarded the contract in exchange for gifts from Abramoff, who was being paid $250,000 by the company for his services as well as $50,000 to the Abramoff-run charity that bankrolled Ney's now infamous Scottish golf outing. [56]

Corrupt actions to aid airplane sale to Iran

Ney's travel disclosure form for the February 2003 London trip he later admitted was a bribe.

In January 2006, Newsweek reported that Ney's lawyer confirmed that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records on an expenses paid February 2003 trip to London that Ney and a top aide took. The trip was 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 government—a deal that would have needed special permits because of U.S. sanctions against Tehran," and that "Ney personally lobbied the then Secretary of State Colin Powell to relax U.S. sanctions on Iran." [57].

Ney's plea agreement cites a "foreign businessman," who was identified by the Associated Press as Fouad al-Zayat. Al-Zayat is a Syrian-born partner in the Cyprus-based FN Aviation company, which also has offices in London. Al-Zayat is apparently a prominent gambler in Britian nicknamed "The Fat Man." [58] [59] Al-Zayat had been trying to sell U.S.-made airplanes and airplane parts to Iran and, through FN Aviation, hired two DC-based lobbyists to seek an exemption from the Iran arms embargo to allow the sale and to gain a visa to enter the U.S. [60] [61]

One of the lobbyists was Roy Coffee of the O'Connor & Hannan firm, which was paid $220,000 for its services between its hire on February 20, 2003 its terminatino at the end of that year, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed with the Senate. [62] Coffee was the Deputy Campaign Manager for George W. Bush's successful 1994 campaign for the Texas governorship and then worked in Bush's office for four years as the Director of State-Federal Relations. After Bush's first term as governor Coffee moved to Washington to join O'Connor & Hannan where he worked until he joined the Locke Liddell & Sapp firm in October 2005. [63]

The other lobbyist was David DiStefano, who was paid $20,000 from his retention at the beginning of 2003 until the end of that year. [64] DiStefano coordinated Ney's first campaign for Congress in 1994 and later served as his chief of staff before becoming a lobbyist. [65]

Ney taught English at a school affiliated with the American Embassy in 1978. He was the only member of the 109th Congress to speak Farsi. [66]

Bribes accepted from Al-Zayat

Ney aide Christopher Otillio's travel disclosure form for the February 2003 trip to London.

In his plea agreement, Ney admitted to taking several bribes from Al-Zayat, including:

  • A junket to London from February 20-23, 2003. FN Aviation paid for round-trip airfare, luxury hotel accommodations, meals and entertainment for Ney and staffer Christopher Otillio. [67] Ney and Otillio filed forms with the Clerk of the House billing the trip as officially-connected, educational travel, in accordance with congressional travel regulations. Both valued their trip at $2,707.25 each. (See forms at right.)
  • On the February 2003 London junket, Al-Zayat gave "thousands of dollars" of gambling trips to both Ney and Otillio, as well as free membership to a private casino. Ney admitted receiving at least $3,250 worth of gambling chips on the trip. [68]
  • On a one-night London stopover by Ney and staffers Heaton and Otillio on August 29, 2003, Al-Zayat gave Ney and each of the staffers thousands of dollars in gambling chips. At the end of the night, Ney personally cashed out $47,000 in British pounds from his chips. [69]

Ney covered up the bribes

Ney took several actions to conceal the bribes he receive from Fouad Al-Zayat, Jack Abramoff, Tony Rudy, Neil Volz and Michael Scanlon, which resulted in his guilty plea to conspiracy and making false statements charges:

  • To conceal part of the $47,000 in British pounds from the August 2003 London gambling junket paid for by Al-Zayat, Ney gave about $5,000 in pounds to one of his staff members to carry through U.S. Customs. Ney then filed a false Customs Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments, claiming that he was taking only $32,000 in pounds into the country. [70]

Resignation from committee chairmanship

On January 15, 2006, Ney resigned as Chairman of the House Administration Committee. He maintained he had done nothing wrong, but had been under increasing pressure to stand down since his ties to Abramoff were an increasing embarassment, particularly in light of Republican plans for lobbying and campaign finance reforms. The House Administration Committee has jurisdiction over lobbyists and federal elections. House Speaker Dennis Hastert reportedly emailed a Roll Call article regarding Ney's precarious hold on the gavel to several Capitol Hill beat reporters. Ney's resignation was officially to be only temporary until he was fully exonerated. Under Republican caucus rules, he would have had to relinquish his chairmanship once indicted.

On September 18, 2006, Ney resigned his chairmanship of both the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity and the Franking Commission. The action came just days after he struck a plea agreement with government prosecutors regarding his involvement in the Jack Abramoff scandal. He did not, however, resign his seat in the House. [71]

Ney aides subpoenaed

It was reported on June 29, 2006 that Matthew Parker, director of Ney's district office in St. Clairsville, was subpoenaed by a federal magistrate in Washington. The aid was subpeonaed in the Justice Department's investigation of "influence peddling in Congress". Also, three other aides announced that they are resigning as member's of Ney's staff. [72]

On July 10, it was announced that John Bennett, who works in Ney's eastern Ohio district office, was also issued a subpoena. [73]

In an interview several weeks later, Ney commented that the subpoenas appear to be politically motivated. He stated:

"I will tell you this that don’t you find it unusual that after 17 months that the Justice Department all of the sudden, 120 days before the election, subpoenas a staffer. They could have called him within the last 17 months. I’ll leave it right at that. I find it very unusual." [74]

Lashing out at a reporter

On June 9, 2006, the Times-Reporter, a paper out of New Philadelphia, Ohio, published an article claiming that Ney lashed out at reporter Paul Krawzak for his role in reporting Ney’s troubles. Ney, through an email sent through his Blackberry device, criticized Krawzak’s ethics and mockingly called him a, “big man.” Ney was particularly upset by a story written by Krawzak regarding Volz’s May 30, 2006 testimony, in which Ney contended that Krawzak wrongfully failed to ask his office for comment. Following his initial rant, Ney followed with another email to Krawzak. He wrote, “Please-please-print this Paul - you don’t care about Ohio - I am sick of your crap. You are a d c person who couldn’t find Ohio unless we gave you a map. You don’t give two shoots about our people.” When asked for comment on these statements, Brian J. Walsh, Ney’s communications director, acknowledged that Ney was very frustrated at the recent news coverage directed towards him. [75]

Denials of guilt

Ney received a standing ovation from his fellow Republicans on May 10, 2006, when he announced that he had no plans to resign and will vigorously fend off a the ongoing federal investigation. [76] In April, the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department "decided to pursue a wide range of allegations" into the dealings between Jack Abramoff and Ney, as opposed to bringing separate charges in both a Florida court and in a District court. [77]

Use of campaign funds for legal fees

Ney set up a legal expense fund to help pay for his anticipated legal bills as a federal probe seems to tighten around him. [78][79]

Ney is spending a significant percentage of his campaign funds for legal fees. From January to March of 2006, Ney paid $96,000 in legal fees to the law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP, FEC documents show; total campaign spending for the period was $250,000. [80] [81]

Brian Walsh, spokesman for Ney, said: "Frankly, it's an unfortunate commentary on the justice system that someone has to spend a lot of money simply to clear their name and set the record straight in what is in this case completely false allegations." He also said that "the congressman is doing everything possible and moving as quickly as possible to put these allegations to rest and clear his name." [82]

A mandatory filing of campaign finances on July 15, 2006 revealed that Ney had not paid his legal bills in six months. The lead lawyer at Vinson & Elkins LLP in Washington, however, had little doubt that Ney would eventually pay. "Payment will be taken care of in due course...[he] needs money for his campaign and that's a priority right now. He intends to pay. He'll pay his fees, I have no doubt about that," he said.[83]

It was also reported on August 1, 2006 that Ney's June 2006 disclosure forms listed him as raising zero dollars from individuals and companies for his legal defense fund. Ney stated that he raised $40,000 for his legal defense fund between January and March. The only expense he listed on the June disclosure form was $132.30 for “deluxe business checks” for the fund's account. [84]

Also

  • It was Ney who, in January 2004, said of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill: "Mr. O'Neill is now as bitter as he was ineffective when he served as treasury secretary."
  • It was Ney, whose wife Elizabeth "was paid about $1,730 a month during his 2004 campaign" and "worked as a campaign consultant for him since the 2001 election cycle." [85]

Retirement and 2006 election

On Thursday, January 26, 2006 Ney announced his candidacy for re-election to the US House of Representatives. [86]

First primary in May

On May 2, 2006, Ney won the Republican primary with 68% of the vote against an unknown financial analyst named James Brodbelt Harris. Greg Giroux of CQ Politics Online stated, "That more than three in 10 Republicans backed a political unknown over Ney — long a popular figure in the east-central Ohio district — demonstrated that some voters in the Republican base are disenchanted with the congressman." [87]

Ney would have faced Democrat Zack Space in the fall elections.

Retirement and GOP pressure

U.S. News and World Report reported on July 6, 2006 that Republicans might ask Ney to resign before the November 2006 elections if he was indicted in connection to his ties to Abramoff. [88] The Washington Post then reported that House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had met with Ney the first week in August to urge him to retire. He reminded Ney that with two college-aged children, he would need to keep earning money. Boehner warned Ney that if he lost his House seat for the party, he should not expect a career on K Street to cover both his tuition bills and mounting legal fees. [89]

On August 7, 2006, Ney announced that he would abandon his reelection campaign for the House. In a statement, he said, "Ultimately this decision came down to my family. I must think of them first, and I can no longer put them through this ordeal." [90]

Later that day, Ohio state Sen. Joy Padgett told the Associated Press that Ney called her August 5 and asked her to run in his place. Padgett said that she would. [91]

Second primary in September

Two Ohio laws complicated Padgett's candidacy.

First, Ohio law bans candidates who have lost one primary from entering another in the same year. Padgett lost in the May 2 primary for lieutenant governor. Bob Bennett, the state Republican party chairman, said he did not believe the law applied to Padgett because she would be entering a different race, and that a formal ruling would be sought from the Ohio Secretary of State. [92]

Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell asked Attorney General Jim Petro to rule on the matter. On August 10, Petro determined that Padgett could be appointed to run in Ney’s place, for she was not subject to the “sore loser” law which bans candidates who have been defeated in one state primary to run in another. [93]

State Democrats, however, believed the law did apply to Padgett, and also that she would be in clear violation of the state statute declaring that no citizen may run for both a federal and state office in the same calendar year. Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Brian Rothenberg said that the party will likely appeal Petro’s ruling once a special election is set up or if Padgett otherwise is certified for the November ballot. [94]

On August 20, the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections ruled that Padgett is eligible to run in the primary. The ruling followed a complaint by Gordon Firman, the brother of candidate Samuel Firman, who claimed (as many Democrats have) that Padgett's candidacy violated a state law that prevents losers in primaries from running in a general election. [95]

Second, a 2005 statute prevents Ohio citizens from running for both state and federal offices in the same year. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Republicans advocated the measure in 2005 to prevent Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) from running for both reelection and governor in 2006. [96]

On August 14, Ney formally requested that his name be removed from the November election ballot, ensuring that a special primary election would be held to replace him. While Padgett cannot be appointed to run as the GOP nominee, she can still run in the primary race, unless Democrats challenge and win their dispute in court to keep her off the ballot.

The primary was held on September 14, 2006. Eight candidates, including Padgett, collected the necessary fifty signatures to compete in the race. [97] [98] [99] Padgett won with about 66 percent of the vote. [100]

Ney pleads guilty, resigns from Congress

On October 13, 2006, Ney pleaded guilty to taking money, gifts and favors in return for official actions on behalf of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his clients. The federal government was said to be seeking a 27-month prison term for Ney. Mark Touhey, Ney's lawyer, told the judge that Ney would resign from the House before his sentencing on January 19, 2007. [101]

Ney resigned from Congress on November 3, 2006, four days before the 2006 midterm elections. House Republicans had previously threatened to expel him from Congress if he was still there when they returned from their election recess. [102] By resigning after November 1, Ney was eligible to collect a final $13,000 paycheck after his conviction. [103]


Ney sentenced, jailed

On January 19, 2007, Ney was sentenced to thirty months in prison. He reported to the Federal Correctional Institution in Morgantown, West Virginia, on March 1, 2007 and is now inmate number 28882-016 [104].

Former chief of staff pleads guilty

On February 27, 2007, William Heaton, Ney’s former chief of staff, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. [105]

According to the plea agreement, Heaton could receive up to five years in jail and a fine of $250,000. [106]

Heaton was the second member of Ney’s staff to be entangled in the scandal involving imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who bribed Ney and his staff with lavish trips and gifts in return for official favors. Heaton’s predecessor, Neil Volz, was convicted on conspiracy charges in 2006. [107]

According to U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors, as outlined in the charges brought against Heaton:

"Ney controlled the receipt of things of value by his personal office staff and the House Administration Committee staff as a way to reward and punish staff by approving their receipt of things of value or by taking things of value and redistributing them to others." [108]

Ney sends e-mail before reporting to federal prison

Just hours before reporting to a federal prison in West Virginia, Ney sent out an emotional e-mail to family and friends. Ney will serve 30 months on federal bribery charges. [109]

Released from Jail

On August 15, 2008, Ney was released from a Cincinnati halfway house after serving 17 1/2 months of a 30-month sentence for his part in the corruption scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Ney began serving time at a federal prison in West Virginia and was eventually transferred to Cincinnati and given early release for good behavior and for participating in an alcohol and drug program while in prison. It was reported that Ney has been working as a researcher for a liberal talk radio show in Ohio as early as March 2008. [1]

Related resources


Committees and Affiliations

Committees in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Bob Ney. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Articles and Resources

SourceWatch Resources

Sources

  1. Paul Kane, Ex-Congressman Ney, Jailed in Lobby Case, Set for Early Release,"Washington Post:", August 13, 2008

External resources

External articles

By Bob Ney

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