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Tag Archive: Bob Ney

Local Corruption an Issue in Races across Country

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In the 2004 Presidential election Ohio was a crucial battleground state, its electoral votes deciding the outcome. The surge in GOP activism and the excitement in the party have since subsided due to a series of high profile corruption scandals resulting in guilty pleas by the Governor, a chief Bush fundraiser, and a sitting congressman. All of these scandals will likely depress Republican voter turnout in a state with a toss-up Senate race, an open governor’s mansion, and four close House races. Local corruption issues, just like national ones, look to have a big impact on the midterm elections in important races.

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Corruption Not an Issue? Please!

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Is corruption an issue or is it not an issue? The Washington Post puts out yet another article explaining how corruption is not a driving issue in campaigns despite the myriad scandals in Washington. They then trot out Sen. Conrad Burns’ reelection campaign as an example where the Senator’s close ties to Jack Abramoff are not affecting the race. Please! Burns has been hit on ethics issues for almost a year now and you’re telling me that has nothing to do with the recent polls showing him down nine points in the polls.

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Jack’s Back and The Mayor of Capitol Hill Pleads Guilty

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And you thought it was safe? Today, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and violate federal lobbying laws and to making false statements. Ney, formerly known as the Mayor of Capitol Hill, is the first lawmaker to plead guilty in the ongoing investigation into the activities of uberlobbyist Jack Abramoff. (Please read TPM Muck's Tribute to Bob Ney.) This guilty plea comes one day after the House passed a miniscule earmark reform, a lame replacement for lobbying and ethics reform. Not long ago the Washington Post wrote this, "Some lawmakers and political analysts believe that voters could punish incumbents during the November elections if Congress passes a minimalist ethics bill. The chances of such a backlash could rise, these critics say, if there are more indictments or guilty pleas later this year." Polls are already showing that individual lawmakers involved in the Abramoff scandal are suffering in their chances for reelection.

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The Dream

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In many a congressman’s heart there is a dream, a dream to one day use the contacts and friendships you’ve created on Capitol Hill and turn them into a million-dollar career as a lobbyist exploiting the system for earmarks and personal wealth. These congressmen fall asleep pondering when they will visit the pearly revolving door and how much better life will be when spin through it. For those with the dream there is nothing worse than ripping it away from them. Fear of facing constituents that want to turn your head into an ornament on Col. Kurtz’ front yard doesn’t faze you. Nor does the fear of an imminent indictment in a wide-ranging public corruption case involving the very people you wish to be. No, for one dreamer (and he’s not the only one), Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), what drove him to forgo reelection was the fear of losing his chance to cash out.

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It Works! Information Is Power

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Yesterday, long-time incumbent Rep. Bob Ney announced he wasn't going to run for reelection after all. The results of his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff finally registered on the political Richter scale (e.g. his polls) and he withdrew. (And maybe there are some other reasons too.)

It wasn't any great surprise to me, though it did take a little longer than I thought. I really believe that information is power and, as important, that as soon as people are armed with the data that it can have consequences. In short, give people the facts and let them decide. The notion that citizens could care less when it comes to political scandal is a myth perpetuated by Washington insiders. I just can't help but feel a little bit gleeful to see another member of Congress (think former Rep. Tom DeLay) finally see the handwriting on the wall. (Though it would be better for them to see it on the Internet in the form of searchable databases.)

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Announcing Online Poll

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Today, Sunlight is posting an online poll asking the public if Congress is doing enough to address ethics and lobbying reform in the wake of recent scandals. We've posted one serious question and another one with a touch of humor: do you think it more likely that there would be a live sighting of Elvis before the current congressional leadership showed real leadership on the need for reform? (The poll is viewable here, and bloggers are encouraged to copy the source code and post it on their own sites.)

Why the cynical question? Here's a brief guide to the issue.

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Daylight AM:

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  • The company ESRI verified that it was issued a subpoena in the [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.) investigation. The San Bernardino Sun also reports that the documents released by another subpoena recipient, San Bernardino County, show Lewis recommending "in 2002 that the county hire The Tom Skancke Co., a Las Vegas firm that lobbies Congress and does public-relations work." During the aftermath of the Duke Cunningham conviction when the spotlight turned to Lewis the congressman bluntly declared, "It is an ironclad rule in my office that we do not recommend lobbyists, even if a constituent asks for that recommendation."
  • A district aide to [sw: Bob Ney] (R-Ohio) was subpoenaed in the federal investigation into influence peddling by lobbyist Jack Abramoff. According to the Associated Press, "The subpoena for Matthew Parker, director of Ney's district office in St. Clairsville, was issued by a federal magistrate in Washington and announced Thursday."
  • Former DeLay chief of staff Tony Rudy is seeking to escape Washington, DC and move to California. Rudy, who pled guilty in the Abramoff investigation, must get an okay from a judge before he can escape the city that was his undoing.
  • Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman (D) was found guilty of "trading government favors for campaign donations". That makes Siegelman the third Governor to be found guilty by a court over the past few years and the second to go to jail. Kentucky's Governor Ernie Fletcher has also been indicted and will face trial.

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Ney Shedding Staff:

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Josh Marshall reports that [sw: Bob Ney] (R-Abramoff) is hemorrhaging staff:

Roll Call's John Bresnahan is reporting (sub.req.) that three of Ney's key staffers are quitting their jobs with the ensnared congressman. Will Heaton, his Chief of Staff and Brian Walsh, his long-suffering communications director are both leaving. And Chris Otillo, his legislative director, apparently bailed last Friday.
As Marshall notes, that's basically Ney's whole staff.

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Daylight AM:

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  • Bob Ney (R-Ohio) told Senate Indian Affairs Investigators that he could not remember meeting with the Tigua Tribe of Texas, a client of Jack Abramoff, when he was interviewed by the committee. Unfortunately for Ney cameras do not forget. The Cleveland Plain Dealer blog has posted a picture of a smiling Ney posing with the Lt. Governor and a governing council member of the Tigua Tribe.
  • Ney's buddy Jack Abramoff is such a nice guy. Roll Call reports that he called Gabon, a small African nation, a "monkey coloney" [sic]. Abramoff also liked to call Indians "troglodytes" and "morons". He sounds like such a caring man.
  • The Press-Enterprise reports on the details of the subpoena issued to San Bernardino County in the ongoing investigation into the ties between Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) and the lobbying firm of Lewis' friend Bill Lowery.
  • Earmark reformers are concerned that the exclusion of joint resolutions from restrictions imposed by earmark reforms would cause the resolutions to be a new place to seed pet projects. Meanwhile, Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) plans on going back to the floor of the House to challenge more earmarks, this time inserted into the Science-State-Justice-Commerce Appropriations bill.
  • The New York Times tallies the amount of fraud in relief spending after Hurricane Katrina and determine that 6 percent of the total money "obligated" was wasted.

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