Created by CREW

CREW: Rep. Bob Ney: Regarding Ethics Violations

On May 16, 2005, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced that it had prepared an ethics complaint against Representative Bob Ney (R-OH).A review of the evidence suggests that Mr. Ney may have broken criminal statutes as well as House rules. First, a contribution to a political campaign can constitute a bribe if a quid pro quo can be demonstrated. Here, within days of lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s initial meeting with Mr. Ney to discuss the Tigua’s situation, Mr. Abramoff advised Marc Schwartz, the Tigua’s political consultant, to have the Tigua prepare and Federal Express three checks to Rep. Ney’s political committees, totaling $32,000. The apparent exchange of campaign contributions in return for Mr. Ney’s support of an amendment to reopen the Speaking Rock Casino could constitute bribery. Second, Mr. Ney may have illegally solicited a gratuity. The illegal gratuity statute prohibits a public official from directly or indirectly, demanding, seeking, receiving, accepting or agreeing to accept anything of value personally for or because of any official act performed or to be performed by such official. E-mail exchanges between Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Schwartz indicate that Rep. Ney solicited the Tigua to pay for part of a 2002 golf trip to Scotland. Solicitation of travel is specifically prohibited by House Rules and by the Ethics in Government Act. In addition, shortly after Mr. Ney returned from Scotland, he was scheduled to met with members of the Tigua tribal council. Prior to that meeting, Mr. Abramoff sent Mr. Schwartz an e-mail reminding him that “for obvious reasons” the golf trip would not be mentioned at the meeting, but that Mr. Ney was appreciative and would show his appreciation “in other ways,” which was, Mr. Abramoff pointed out, just what the tribe wanted. This demonstrates the statutorily required tie between legislative action and the trip.