One of the things that drives the public nuts is when their elected representatives forget their roots. That's one reason that the golfing junkets, the fancy dinners, and trips on corporate jets that master lobbyist Jack Abramoff routinely provided Reps. Tom DeLay and Bob Ney (among others) drove people crazy.Continue reading
An Ohio lawmaker whose travel is under scrutiny stopped accepting paid trips for himself and his staff shortly after questions were raised about who funded his trip to Scotland with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. After accepting 131 trips worth $234,775 in 4 1/2 years, Rep. Bob Ney and his staff haven't let a private outside group pay for their travel since June 14, 2005, according to an Associated Press review of travel disclosure forms Ney's office filed with the House clerk.Continue reading
On Wednesday, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was launching two probes into lawmakers and a third probe wide-ranging probe into possible violations by staffers and other lawmakers in the Duke Cunningham scandal. However, these probes may interfere with the current investigations that the FBI and Department of Justice Public Integrity Unit have underway. The Washington Post looks at whether the Ethics Committee is too late to the game:
The Justice Department has traditionally opposed such parallel inquiries by congressional committees for fear that lawmakers might complicate its collection of testimony and information. The Senate's ethics panel, for instance, regularly steps aside when another enforcement agency is looking into the behavior of senators. But House officials indicated yesterday that they hope the continuing conversations between the Justice Department and the ethics committee will avert conflicts. A spokesman for the department declined to comment.It is doubtful that the Justice Department is happy about this development. Previously, Justice had asked the House and Senate Ethics Committees to steer clear of any investagtion relating to Jack Abramoff. The House's investigation into Bob Ney, who is alleged to have accepted things of value from Abramoff in exchange for favorable action, clearly goes against Justice's recommendations. A March article in Roll Call notes that the ethics committee's rule 15(f) states that the committee "may defer action on a complaint against a Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives when the complaint alleges conduct that the Committee has reason to believe is being reviewed by appropriate law enforcement or regulatory authorities, or when the Committee determines that it is appropriate for the conduct alleged in the complaint to be reviewed initially by law enforcement or regulatory authorities." An expert interviewed in the Post article states, "I can't imagine that they will pursue subpoenas and testimony and get in the way of the Justice Department; that hasn't happened in the past." Continue reading
After 16 months of deadlock and inaction the House Ethics Committee has launched two investigations into members of the House, according to the Washington Post. The Ethics Committee has agreed to look into the cases of Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), alleged to have taken bribes from Jack Abramoff in return for favorable action, and Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), who is alleged to have solicited bribes in an international telecommunications deal. The panel refused to hear the case of the retiring former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who has already been indicted in Texas on money laundering charges and has been closely tied to Jack Abramoff since the mid-90s. The gridlock on the panel actually began due to three admonishments of DeLay in 2004. After the third admonishment Speaker Dennis Hastert and DeLay purged the panel's Republicans, installing DeLay supporters who aggravated the Democrats on the panel by attempting to change the rules on how the ethics process worked. The deadlock ended when the ranking Democrat Alan Mollohan (D-WV) stepped down after he was alleged to have misstated his personal finances and used federal earmarks to enrich himself. The current ranking Democrat is Howard Berman (D-CA) and the chairman is Doc Hastings (R-WA).Continue reading
A "defiant" Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) received a standing ovation from members of the Republican caucus after announcing that he would not resign and "vigorously fend off a likely federal indictment." The Hill reported that even Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) stood up to cheer the embattled lawmaker. However, one Republican stated, "Dead man walking." Ney's former chief of staff recently became the fourth lobbyist to accuse the Ohio lawmaker of taking bribes in a plea agreement.Continue reading
- Roll Call reports that the House Republican caucus remains "noncommital" on whether to push Bob Ney (R-OH) to resign if he is indicted on charges related to the Jack Abramoff bribery case. Just two days ago Ney's former chief of staff Neil Volz pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery among other charges.
- While House Republicans are weighing their options with Ney they are urging Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to pull Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) from the Appropriations Committee. Mollohan has been under fire for his earmarking of money to campaign contributors and nonprofits that he formed. He recently stepped down from his position as ranking member of the House Ethics Committee due to these allegations.
- USA Today reports that the ethics troubles of Democrats, including Rep. Mollohan, are having a dulling effect on the party's attempt to tar the Republicans as a party with a "culture of corruption." Other Democratic ethics woes include the advancing bribery probe of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and rehashed allegations against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) for using his staffers as babysitters and tutors.
The Washington Post article on former Bob Ney chief of staff Neil Volz's guilty plea has some key information:
Volz, who has been talking to prosecutors for three months, is providing information on other lawmakers and staff, according to a source close to the ongoing investigation.Emphasis added. So who else could Volz be dishing on? Brad Friedman at The Brad Blog has an idea. Continue reading
Oy Ney! If you're a congressman you don't want to read something like this on a Monday. Here's a link to the Neil Volz Factual Proffer (courtesy TPM Document Collection), which provides an incredibly detailed account of what Abramoff, Scanlon, and company provided to Bob Ney (R-OH) in exchange for favorable action and legislation. If I were Bob Ney I could only feel that this is the Worst. Monday. Ever.Continue reading
Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), already implicated in three guilty pleas in the Jack Abramoff scandal, is about to be fingered as a bribe taker in four guilty pleas. According to Reuters, Ney's former chief of staff Neil Volz is set to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and to violating the one-year ban on lobbying after leaving work on Capitol Hill. UPDATE: Josh Marshall has the plea agreement here.Continue reading
Aside from Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) there are two other notable congressmen with legal defense funds: Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) and Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). The Columbus Dispatch reported today on the bankrollers of Bob Ney's defense fund:
The majority of Rep. Bob Ney’s relatively modest legal-defense fund has been bankrolled by members of the Boich family, which owns an Ohio coal conglomerate. The Licking County Republican, under federal investigation for his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, took in $40,000 during the first quarter to his legal fund, according to the report submitted late Monday. Of that amount, $25,000 was given by members of the Boich family or Boich companies. Another $5,000 came from the Laborer’s Political League in Washington, and $10,000 was given by individuals from Akron and Miami.Meanwhile, Political Money Line has reported on Jefferson's defense fund:
The Congressman William Jefferson Legal Trust Fund filed its first quarter 2006 report indicating it had raised $34,500 and spent $16,082. Donors included $5,000 each from Connell Co (NJ, Debra L. Lee (DC), Robert L. Johnson (CT), C&S Consultants (LA), Lisa Green Campbell (LA), among others. The Trust paid Smith & Fawer (LA) $6,082; Robert Trout (DC) $10,000; and Trout & Cacheris (DC) $20,000. In the previous quarter the Trust raised $84,750 and spent $65,000. Payments included $55,000 to Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hall and $10,000 to Smith & Fawer.Continue reading