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Former Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, acknowledged on Wednesday night that while his recently released book paints a harsh portrait of some Washington figures, he isn’t out to settle a grudge.
“I’m not a bitter person,” he told the crowd gathered at the Monocle for a book release party. “I’m happy ... but there are some things in there I had to tell, I had to get it out.”
“Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of the Hit Men of Capitol Hill” was released Tuesday, though copies around the capital city are hard to find. Ney’s publisher confirmed the personal account of Ney’s political career and eventual downfall will be “widely available” within the week.
Ney represented Ohio in the House for more than a decade before being felled by the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. He served 17 months in a federal prison and a halfway house after pleading guilty to conspiracy and making false statements. Now he’s back — and he isn’t shy about telling his story.
Ney begins with his childhood in the Ohio River Valley and his happenstance entry into politics during college at Ohio University and Ohio State University before moving onto a formative sojourn teaching in Iran, his tenure in the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio State Senate and his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, drinking heavily all the way.
After being asked to be a delegate at the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, where Ronald Reagan was challenging Gerald Ford, he was invited to Washington by the Ford White House.
“We headed to D.C. in my Chevy Chevette, changed our clothes in Karl Rove’s apartment and camped out there that night. His place seemed disorganized and had the appearance of an apartment where the occupant doesn’t spend much time,” Ney recollects.
His first official stop in Washington was also his first brush with the side benefits that political power could provide — after Ney’s car was towed for being in a no-parking zone outside the Mayflower Hotel, Cleveland Mayor Ralph Perk called the D.C. mayor’s office to get it back.
“Using politicians to defy local laws would get you in the press these days, but the 70s were different bag,” Ney writes.
It would be 20 years before Ney would take the trips to England and Scotland that would lead to the Justice Department probe that landed him in prison, and his story spends ample time dishing on the Washington relationships he made during that time.
Ney describes his fellow Ohio delegation colleague and now Speaker John A. Boehner as a “good ol’ boy” who “took the easy way legislatively” and spent most of his time fundraising. “He was a chain-smoking, relentless wine drinker who was more interested in the high life — golf, women, cigarettes, fun, and alcohol,” Ney writes.