Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Bob Ney in Spotlight of Abramoff Bribery Probe.
Another Republican representative has been thrust into the spotlight of the Jack Abramoff bribery probe. Ohio Rep. Bob Ney is being put on display as being a central figure in this scenario as is detailed in the following Yahoo News AP Wire excerpt:
WASHINGTON - Identified in new court documents as "Representative No. 1," Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio has become the poster boy in the Jack Abramoff bribery probe, a beneficiary of trips, tickets and campaign donations, allegedly in exchange for official acts.
Ney denies doing anything wrong, and he would hardly appear to be in the top tier of likely targets for Washington lobbyists. He is chairman of the House Administration Committee. The panel's work is often mundane, but important to everyone on the Hill — from overseeing the distribution of office furniture to protecting the Capitol after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
As low-profile as his duties might seem to be, Ney appears to face serious legal problems, has a legal defense fund and has hired a well-known Washington defense attorney, Mark Tuohey, a former deputy in Independent Counsel Ken Starr's criminal investigation of the Clintons.
Ney's relationship with Abramoff could end up hurting him on the political front back home, where Democrats hope to mount a strong challenge to the six-term congressman. He won re-election by a 2-1 margin in 2004.
The unwelcome notoriety Ney faces raises an intriguing question: Who else on Capitol Hill is in the prosecutors' gun-sights?
One man who may have some answers is Michael Scanlon, the former partner in Abramoff's lobbying firm. Scanlon, an ex-aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, has become a government witness in the Abramoff investigation.
But for now, Ney is Exhibit A. Three full pages in the court papers in Scanlon's guilty plea Monday itemize things of value to Ney or his staff and official acts allegedly performed in return.
Ney has ready responses for all of them. The congressman says he was misled by Abramoff about who was paying for a 2002 golf trip to Scotland. Ney said "I was told point blank" that a conservative policy group was footing the bill. Ney said he backed a measure to help reopen an Indian-operated gambling casino in Texas after being assured by Abramoff that Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., supported it. Dodd said neither Abramoff nor Scanlon ever contacted him about it.
When evidence emerged that Abramoff and Scanlon had collected $80 million for representing six American Indian tribes with casinos, Ney said, "You do something that is in good faith — how did I know what they were charging their clients? Why would I hurt anyone, especially an Indian tribe?"
Ney has interesting historical connections to another Ohio congressman, the late Rep. Wayne Hays, who chaired the same committee that Ney now heads. Hays put his mistress on his payroll as his secretary, and when the arrangement was publicly disclosed, Hays was forced out of his chairmanship and eventually Congress.
So, little Mr. Innocent backed a proposal, and dealt directly with people who "collected funds" for Indian casinos, then turned around and charged the tribes for their "services". The Scotland Golf Expo? Gee, he thought someone else was footing the bill. Amazing. No accountability. But what else can we expect from today's GOP?
I'm particularly intrigued by the Abramoff - Scanlon - DeLay connection here. Something tells me things are going to get quite a bit more interesting now that Scanlon has been convicted, and is now apparently ready to roll over on as many others involved in this mess to lessen his own punishment. Is that the sound of Tom DeLay shitting a basketball-sized brick I hear?