CREW Hits Ney in Draft Ethics Filing

Posted May 16, 2005 at 5:40pm

After failing to get any House Democrats to file it, at least so far, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington on Monday made public a draft ethics complaint against Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) focusing on his dealings with former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and one of Abramoff’s former tribal clients.

CREW’s executive director, Melanie Sloan, a former prosecutor and ex-aide to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), said she had been working on the draft for the past two months.

In recent days, Sloan said, she shopped the complaint to nine House Democrats, all of whom declined to file the complaint with the ethics committee. Only a Member of Congress may file a complaint against another Member.

“I made it public because I can’t find” a Member to file the complaint, Sloan said in an interview. Sloan declined to say which Members had taken a pass on her draft complaint, although the office of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) confirmed that she was one of those approached.

The draft Ney complaint by CREW alleges that the Ohio Republican violated federal bribery and illegal gratuity statutes, as well as House rules on privately funded travel.

CREW accused Ney of accepting campaign donations in return for an official legislative act. CREW also alleges that Ney illegally solicited funding for an overseas trip.

Ney’s spokesman, Brian Walsh, said CREW “is an absolute joke and anything they send to the press is not worthy of the paper it’s written on.” He took Roll Call to task for giving the complaint media play. “It is unfortunate that the Washington media has now joined George Soros and [Rep.] Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) in giving them even the slightest bit of credibility,” Walsh said.

Since Ney’s links to Abramoff and his clients have surfaced, the Ohio Republican has consistently said he was duped by Abramoff, who is undergoing several investigations surrounding his expensive representation of American Indian tribes seeking government help on gaming issues and federal appropriations.

Abramoff sought Ney’s help in attaching a provision to a 2002 election reform bill that would have allowed the Tiguas to reopen a gambling casino closed by Texas authorities earlier that year. Abramoff and business partner Michael Scanlon were paid more than $4 million by the Tiguas, although their campaign failed when Ney’s language to revise the Tiguas’ federal charter to allow the tribe to reopen the casino was rejected by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Ney’s Senate counterpart on the election legislation. The Tiguas steered $32,000 to Ney’s political committees shortly after he told Abramoff he would help the tribe.

Abramoff also asked the Tiguas to help pay for a trip to Scotland taken by Ney, and Sloan claims Ney personally solicited funds for that trip from the Tiguas. Ney has denied any knowledge of the source of funding for the trip, saying he believed it was the National Center for Public Policy Research, a nonprofit group that could have paid for the travel legitimately.

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.