News and articles relating to the scandal surrounding Washington D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Bob Ney: Will Ethics Scandals Hurt GOP Bids in 2006? - Newsweek Periscope -

Updated: 12:52 a.m. ET Nov. 27, 2005

Dec. 5, 2005 issue - Ohio Rep. Bob Ney has long been known as "The Mayor of Capitol Hill," a name tied to his role overseeing a committee charged with such mundane tasks as doling out parking spaces and buying office furniture. But last week Ney was known as "Representative No. 1," the lawmaker identified by federal prosecutors as the recipient of free trips, sports tickets and campaign donations from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff allegedly in exchange for official favors.

Michael Scanlon, Abramoff's ex-partner and a former top aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, pleaded guilty last week to conspiring to bribe a member of Congress and other public officials. Nearly three pages in Scanlon's guilty plea detail gifts and services provided to "Representative No. 1" and his staff, including a 2002 trip to Scotland. In return, Ney allegedly performed several "official acts" to aid Abramoff's clients, including backing a measure to reopen an Indian casino in Texas. Ney's lawyer acknowledges his client is "Representative No. 1" but says Ney was "duped" by Abramoff and Scanlon. "Any allegation that Rep. Ney did anything illegal or improper is false," Brian Walsh, a Ney spokesman, told NEWSWEEK.

Ney, who was subpoenaed in the investigation, reportedly has been told that he's a target of a bribery case. He recently hired a high-profile defense attorney, Mark Tuohey, a deputy in independent counsel Ken Starr's investigations of the Clintons, and launched a legal-defense fund.

Democrats hope to capitalize on the lawmaker's ethics troubles in their quest to regain control of the House. Back home, Ney, who won re-election in 2004 by a 2-1 margin, is being challenged by Joe Sulzer, a local mayor and Vietnam vet running on a platform of "returning ethics" to public office. It's a message that Republicans fear could resonate not just in Ohio, where the GOP has been rocked by ethics scandals involving state officials, but across the country during next year's midterm elections.

While most Republicans have stayed mum on Ney's problems, there was a notable exception last week. In a breakfast with reporters, Republican activist and key White House ally Grover Norquist, whose own dealings with Abramoff have come under scrutiny, suggested if Ney is facing a "serious legal problem," he "should step aside for the good of the team." While no Republican has publicly asked Ney to step down in '06, party officials privately admit worries over the investigation, which reportedly includes other lawmakers. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department is now probing Abramoff's dealings with DeLay, Rep. John Doolittle and Sen. Conrad Burns, all of whom are up for re-election in 2006. All have denied wrongdoing.

?Holly Bailey

� 2005 Newsweek, Inc.


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