At the end of last week the statute of limitations expired for prosecutors to bring charges in Florida against Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) for his alleged exchange of favorable language inserted into the Congressional Record for gifts from Jack Abramoff and Adam Kidan. The Washington Post explained this weekend that federal prosecutors are looking at a wider investigation of the congressman:
Federal prosecutors signaled this week that they have decided to pursue a wide range of allegations about dealings between Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, rather than bringing a narrowly focused bribery case against the congressman. ... Ney's lawyer, Mark Tuohey, said he has been in talks with Justice Department officials and expects to know within a month or two whether Ney will face criminal charges. He said the department asked for another extension of the statute of limitations in recent days, but this time Ney declined. ... Court papers filed in recent months show that prosecutors have lined up at least four cooperating witnesses against the Ohio congressman: Abramoff, former congressional aides Michael Scanlon and Tony C. Rudy, and businessman Adam Kidan. All have pleaded guilty to various conspiracy, fraud or public corruption charges. The court filings that accompanied the plea agreements of Abramoff, Scanlon and Rudy accused Ney of accepting "a stream of things of value" in exchange for official actions.Ney's lawyer was touting the expiration of the statute of limitations in Florida as a win for the congressman. This report shows that Ney has a long way to go before he has a chance to clear his name. Continue reading
Raw Story has a scoop on Bob Ney (R-OH) that, if true, poses serious problems for his future in Congress:
A pre-trial motion filed by federal prosecutors in the case of indicted former Bush Administration official David Safavian contends that his share of the costs in a trip to play golf in Scotland and England arranged by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff should have been nearly five times more than what he paid, RAW STORY has found. Perhaps more significantly, however, it also provides the first formal evidence that powerful Ohio Republican Bob Ney – then chairman of the House Administration Committee – provided false figures for the cost of his own trip to Scotland. (emphasis added) Ney has been under fire for his role in allegedly helping Abramoff aid his clients in violation of House ethics rules and possibly federal laws.Apparently Ney should have reported the trip as costing $15,000 rather than the $3,200 that he did report. Looks like the Abramoff Express could be running through another congressman. Continue reading
TPM Muckraker Paul Kiel has a great post on David Safavian's e-mails with Jack Abramoff. Apparently, they contain the itinerary for the infamous Scotland gofing junket... excuse me, the trip to see Scotish Parliamentarians and visit the British Parliament. As Kiel notes, I bet Bob Ney didn't think that these e-mails would get out.Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) vowed that he would let the voters of his Ohio district decide whether he should remain in Congress as opposed to bowing out early as Tom DeLay has in the face of mounting legal worries, according to The Hill. Ney has been implicated in three separate plea deals and he and his ex-chief of staff Neil Volz are both under investigation by the Justice Department for accepting bribes in exchange for favorable congressional action in the Jack Abramoff scandal. Ney is known as “Representative #1” in the plea deals of Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, and Tony Rudy.Continue reading
Disgraced super lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced yesterday to 70 months in prison for obtaining fraudulent loans in his purchase of Sun Cruz Casinos. His partner Adam Kidan received the same sentence, but is still under investigation for his role in the murder of former Sun Cruz owner and rival Gus Boulis. The Washington Post notes that, “His prison time could be reduced further if he provides substantial assistance to corruption investigators, and both prosecutors and defense attorneys said he has been helpful so far.” One of the congressmen the Justice Department is investigating in connection with the Abramoff case, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), stated that he will not accept a plea deal and, through his lawyer, announced that he has, “recently been seeking to persuade prosecutors not to bring charges in Washington or Florida. An agreement Ney signed last fall that waived the five-year statute of limitations on possible charges in Florida will expire in late April.”Continue reading
In an “ongoing” and “broad-scale look” the Senate Finance Committee is preparing to delve into a “probe of nonprofits and foundations seeking to determine whether tax-exempt entities have abused their privilege in pursuit of political goals, including an examination of Abramoff-linked charities.” According to Roll Call, Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said that “he was not yet certain that there would be any hearings on the overall investigation into nonprofit abuse … but said any report or hearings held by his panel would cover a wide range of nonprofit activities, and not just focus on those associated with Abramoff.” A hearing would likely focus attention on how Abramoff used client money funneled through a non-profit to pay for the infamous Scotland golfing trip that included Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), Religious Right activist Ralph Reed, and former procurement official David Safavian.Continue reading
Roll Call reports that the Department of Justice has pulled the personal financial disclosure reports of nine members of Congress, some of them directly connected to Jack Abramoff. Those directly connected to the Abramoff case include Representatives Tom DeLay (R-TX), Bob Ney (R-OH), John Doolittle (R-CA), Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), and a number of their aides. The other members listed, three Democrats and two Republicans, do not appear to have any connection with the Abramoff case and their records may have been accessed for separate matters. The article notes that, “Searching the financial disclosure forms of these lawmakers and ex-staffers is likely part of Justice’s efforts to match up actual ‘things of value,’ as they are known in legal terms, with so-called ‘official acts.’ While campaign contributions can be a part of an indictment against lawmakers and staff, Justice has usually shied away from bringing corruption cases unless they can show that politicians were actually receiving things of cash value for their own personal use.”Continue reading