GOP to Ney: Quit or be expelled
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and making false statements in the influence-peddling investigation of lobbyist...
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy and making false statements in the influence-peddling investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, becoming the first elected official to fall in the scandal.
Ney, 52, emerged from a month of alcoholism treatment to appear before Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in federal court, where he admitted performing official acts for lobbyists in exchange for campaign contributions, expensive meals, luxury travel and skybox sports tickets.
Ney also admitted taking thousands of dollars in gambling chips from an international businessman who sought his help with the State Department.
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.
He faces up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. The Justice Department recommended 27 months behind bars and a fine of between $5,000 and $60,000.
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, 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 current and former teen 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."
Until he resigns, Ney will keep his $165,200 annual paycheck, earning about $450 a day. Even if expelled, he will be eligible to collect his government pension. If he retires at 62, he would get about $33,000 a year.
Earlier this year, Ney's committee passed ethics legislation to strip convicted lawmakers of their pensions, but the bill died in the House.
Ney is the eighth person convicted in the federal investigation into Abramoff. A federal task force is investigating Abramoff's dealings with other congressional offices, including those of Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., and Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., according to lawyers and witnesses.
Material from Gannett News Service and The Washington Post is included in this report.
Foley-case figure concedes errors
WASHINGTON — A congressman who is a key figure in the House page scandal conceded Friday that Republicans have mishandled the matter.
"I think there's stuff that everybody would have done differently" in hindsight, said Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., after he testified for more than three hours before the House ethics committee. The panel is investigating former Rep. Mark Foley's sexually charged Internet communications with current and former teenage pages over several years.
Shimkus chairs the board that oversees the House page program, and he intervened last fall to stop Foley from e-mailing a former congressional page who considered the contacts inappropriate.
Shimkus kept the two other House Page Board members, including the panel's sole Democrat, in the dark when he confronted Foley last fall.
The FBI is investigating whether Foley, now in a Florida alcohol-treatment center, committed a crime.
Separately, federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary investigation into an unspecified allegation related to a camping trip that Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., took with two former pages and others in 1996, a law-enforcement official said. Kolbe spokeswoman Korenna Cline said, "There is ... no truth to any inappropriate behavior" on Kolbe's part.
Kolbe, 64, the only openly gay Republican in the House, is retiring this year after 22 years in the House.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.