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Abramoff Scandal
GOP Congressman latest casualty in Abramoff scandal


Ohio Congressman Bob Ney. Photo © The Hill.
Rep. Bob Ney | House Administration Committee
The Jack Abramoff scandal claimed another Capitol Hill casualty on Sunday, as a Republican Congressman who is named in the disgraced lobbyist's court papers said he would temporarily step down from his chairmanship post.

Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), the powerful chairman of the House Administration Committee, denied any wrongdoing in connection with Abramoff. But in a statement, he acknowledged that questions surrounding his relationship were becoming a "distraction" to his work and the Republican Party.

"I want to assure my colleagues and my constituents that I have done absolutely nothing wrong, and I am convinced that I will be vindicated completely at the end of this difficult process," he said. The move came after former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) gave up his leadership post due to his ongoing legal troubles, including ties to Abramoff.

Ney is known as the "Mayor" of Capitol Hill because his committee controls office space, parking and other perks for the U.S. House. But in recent weeks, he has taken on another identity -- "Representative No. 1" for the official actions he allegedly took after accepting money, trips and other items of value from Abramoff, Michael Scanlon and their tribal clients.

According to Abramoff and Scanlon, both of whom have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with federal investigators, Ney promised to sponsor legislation to reopen the Tigua Tribe's shuttered casino in El Paso. He did so after accepting $32,000 in contributions from the Tiguas and after another Texas tribe -- the Alabama-Coushattas, whose casino also had been closed -- gave $50,000 to help fund Ney's trip to a lavish golf resort in Scotland.

"Jack said many, many times that [the golf trip] was something that the Congressman wanted very badly. And that he would certainly know that the tribe was one of the benefactors in providing the trip," Marc Schwartz, the Tigua Tribe's political consultant said on ABC's "Nightline" program last month. The Tiguas turned to the Alabama-Coushattas to finance the Scotland jaunt.

Federal investigators also allege Ney met with a "California tribe" and agreed to sponsor legislation to benefit the tribe and its members. Court papers do not disclose the identity of the tribe but documents indicate it was the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, whose chairman last week apologized for the tribe's involvement.

"It really pains me, hurts me to know that the fallout from that is affecting all of Indian Country," Richard Milanovich said at the Western Indian Gaming Conference in Palm Springs. "I apologize to each and every one of you and to all of your people for it happening."

Ney's former chief of staff, Neil G. Volz, has been implicated in the scandal as well because he left Congress to work at Abramoff's lobbying firm, a practice that is being investigated by the Department of Justice. Identified in court papers as "Staffer B," it was Volz who allegedly lobbied Ney on the legislation to benefit the Texas tribes.

Federal investigators say Abramoff lured Capitol Hill staffers to high-paying jobs and used them to lobby their former bosses in apparent violation of the one-year "cooling off" period imposed on ex-government employees.

According to news reports, Ney was pressured to relinquish his position by House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), who is promising an overhaul of ethics and lobbying rules. One of the proposals would ban all forms of travel paid by outside groups.

In Ney's case, Abramoff arranged the trip to Scotland and another to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory and former client of Abramoff's. The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe's contribution had been funneled through a charity Abramoff controlled and, under existing law, didn't have to be reported to Congress.

Legislation sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, would change that. It would require additional disclosures regarding the source of funding for Congressional trips.

"Over the past year and a half, the Committee on Indian Affairs has unearthed a story of excess and abuse by former lobbyists of a few Indian tribes," he said on December 16, 2005, the date the bill was introduced. "The story is alarming in its depth and breadth of potential wrongdoing."

Hey has given away the $32,000 he took from the Tiguas, but none of it is going to the tribe. He gave the money to an unnamed charity.

Relevant Documents:
US v. Abramoff | Abramoff Plea Agreement | Department of Justice Press Conference | US v. Scanlon Scanlon Plea Deal | Attachment

Lobbying Reform Bills:
S.2128 | S.1312

November 17, 2005, Hearing:
Video | Exhibits

November 2, 2005, Hearing:
Video | Exhibits | Witness List / Testimony

June 22, 2005, Hearing:
Video | Exhibits 1 | Exhibits 2 | Witness List / Testimony

November 17, 2004 Hearing:
Video | Exhibits | Witness List / Testimony

September 29, 2004 Hearing:
Video | Exhibits | Witness List / Testimony