The betting money in Washington sees Ohio Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who is known by colleagues as "the mayor of Capitol Hill," as a pol whose days are now numbered, SALON.COM reported late Tuesday. Their full story is available here; excerpts follow.
"If Bob Ney is not nailed to the wall here, given everything we know right now, it will be quite a surprise," says Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
In recent days, the Justice Department claimed a "Representative #1," later identified as Ney, was a major player in a conspiracy of political corruption. According to court filings, Abramoff and Scanlon provided Ney with "a stream of things of value," including "a lavish trip to Scotland to play golf on world famous courses, tickets to sporting events and other entertainment, regular meals at [Abramoff's] upscale restaurant, and campaign contributions." Ney or his staff also received tickets to the 2001 Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla., frequent golf expenses for greens around Washington, D.C., and a 2000 trip to the Northern Mariana Islands, an American territory in the Pacific that had hired Abramoff as a lobbyist. In an apparent exchange, prosecutors claim that Ney agreed "to perform a series of official acts" like placing statements in the Congressional Record, meeting with Abramoff's clients and trying to arrange a cellphone business deal for one of the lobbyist's clients.
Prosecutors are also investigating the role of DeLay, who once described Abramoff as one of his closest friends, a fact that was revealed in a recent filing with the British government asking for information about a trip that Abramoff organized for DeLay in 2000. Dozens more senators and congressmen benefited from Abramoff's largess in recent years, and many of them later supported initiatives for Abramoff's clients. Rep. J.D. Hayworth, R-Ariz., and Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., held fundraisers in Abramoff's skyboxes at sporting events without properly disclosing the in-kind contribution, a possible violation of campaign finance rules. Others, like Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., received $237,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff and his tribal clients, and then helped one of Abramoff's clients obtain federal grant funding, a relationship that was first reported by the Washington Post.
"We know we have a number of members here, and that number may be more than two or three or four," says Ornstein, referring to the scope of the inquiry. "Right now I would be sweating bullets."