Saturday, September 16, 2006
Ohio Representative Bob Ney will plead guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and filing false statements regarding expenses paid on his behalf. A Department of Justice press release (here) outlines the factual basis for the corruption charges:
Congressman Ney admits that he corruptly solicited and accepted a stream of benefits from Jack Abramoff and other lobbyists, including:
- international and domestic trips, such as a trip Scotland with others costing $160,000; a $7000 trip to New Orleans and a $3500 vacation at Lake George, New York all paid for by lobbyists and their clients; and
- Thousands of dollars worth of meals, drinks, tickets to concerts and sporting events and free use of box suites to conduct fundraisers.
In exchange, as Congressman Ney admits, he agreed to take and he took a series of official actions. For example, he
- Agreed to insert four separate unrelated amendments to an election reform legislation at Abramoff’s request;
- Agreed to insert statements into the Congressional Record; and
- supported Abramoff’s efforts to get a multi-million dollar contract for his client
Then, to conceal this illegal conduct from the public, he failed to accurately report these benefits and lied on his Annual Financial Disclosure Statements filed with the House of Representatives. In addition, as part of the conspiracy to deprive the public of his honest services, and with the intent to be influenced, Congressman Ney took thousands of dollars in free gambling chips from a foreign businessman. This foreign businessman was seeking an exemption to the U.S. export laws prohibiting the sale of his goods to a foreign country, and a visa to the United States. Congressman Ney traveled to London, took free gambling money and, then, Congressman Ney agreed to help, and indeed made efforts to help when he returned home to the United States. Congressman Ney admits that he intentionally concealed the amount of gambling proceeds by filing a false U.S. Customs disclosure form and false annual financial disclosure statements. And Congressman Ney had a staff member carry approximately $5,000 through Customs so the Congressman could falsely report a smaller amount to Customs officials.
Representative Ney certainly developed a facility for lying that included repeated denials of having engaged in any wrongdoing and assertions of his innocence, all of which are now shown to be utterly dishonest. He has entered a treatment program for alcoholism, and will not formally enter the plea until October 13. It is not clear whether Representative Ney will resign his position after entering his guilty plea, although I would hope he would not drag Congress down any further than he already has by leaving that body as soon as possible. (ph)