Chris Cillizza of The Fix follows up on yesterday’s announcement by Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), otherwise known as "Respresentative #1" in three separate plea deals, that he will not resign as "Representative #2" Tom DeLay (R-TX) has chosen to do. Cillizza takes a close look at the differences between the two troubled congressmen and their divergent decisions:
Legally, DeLay faced more imminent problems than Ney.
DeLay is currently under indictment in Texas for his role in an alleged money laundering scheme run through his Texans for a Republican Majority political action committee. In the federal investigation into the ever-broadening pay to play scandal surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, DeLay has watched as several of his key aides (including his former press secretary and deputy chief of staff) have plead guilty to various crimes. But DeLay has never been directly implicated, and he has said publicly that investigators have told him he is not a focus of the Abramoff probe.
Ney, on the other hand, has been repeatedly referenced by both Abramoff and Tony Rudy in their plea agreements with prosecutors — although never by name. Known as "Representative #1" in the Abramoff plea document, Ney is alleged to have accepted a variety of trips and gifts from Abramoff and his associates in exchange for official actions.
Ney has denied any wrongdoing, although he has acknowledged his legal peril by declaring that he will run for reelection even if he is indicted. The chairman of the Ohio Republican Party has said Ney should resign if indicted.
There may be a political decision going on with Ney, as there was with DeLay’s decision to raise money through his campaign committee to then be converted to his legal defense fund:
Ney will face voters in his 18th District for the first time on May 2. In that primary race, Ney is matched against financial analyst James Brodbelt Harris, a youthful, first-time candidate given no chance of ousting Ney.
Even Ney’s biggest critics within his party want him to stay on the ballot through May 2 — if he dropped from the race before that time, Harris would need just a single vote to win the nomination. National Republicans would prefer the opportunity to influence the selection process of a replacement nominee, which is only possible if Ney steps down after becoming the party’s official nominee.
In talking to Republicans familiar with internal polling in the DeLay and Ney races, the Ohio Congressman is currently in worse shape.
The Ney drop out watch begins on May 3rd.