Ney Pleads Guilty, Says He'll Resign
Friday, October 13, 2006; 9:36 PM
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty Friday in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation, the first lawmaker to confess to crimes in an election-year scandal that has stained the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration.
Beleaguered GOP leaders said Ney will be expelled from the House if he doesn't quit by the time they return to Washington after the Nov. 7 elections.
Appearing before Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle on charges of conspiracy and making false statements, Ney acknowledged taking trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff in return for official actions on behalf of his clients.
Ney, an Ohio Republican, faces up to 10 years in prison. The Justice Department recommended 27 months behind bars. Ney's lawyers plan to recommend him for a Bureau of Prisons alcohol treatment program, which could cut dramatically the time he serves behind bars.
Huvelle set sentencing for Jan. 19.
Although Ney's lawyer and the congressman promised he would resign in the next few weeks, it was not soon enough for House Republican leaders who are on the defensive because of fresh scandals in the final weeks before the midterm elections.
Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and other Republican House leaders, along with their top aides, are under investigation by the House ethics committee in a possible cover-up of former Rep. Mark Foley's sexually charged messages to teenage males who served as House pages.
Hastert has called on Ney to resign, as did White House spokesman Tony Snow, who said Ney's criminal activity "is not a reflection of the Republican Party." House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said he will introduce a resolution to kick Ney out of the House as soon as Congress returns to Washington.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., faulted Hastert and the Republican leadership for letting Ney remain on the public payroll since he signed papers in September agreeing to plead guilty. Pelosi said House GOP leaders "have a long pattern of protecting Republican members."
In Ney's homestate, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett called Ney "a cancer in the Congress."
Political corruption has hurt Republicans more than Democrats, recent AP-Ipsos polling indicates. Democrats have the advantage over Republicans on the question of who would do a better job of handling corruption, 40 percent to 25 percent.
Ney is the latest in a string of once-influential men convicted in a scandal that so far has caught several lobbyists and two members of the Bush administration.