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Abramoff Scandal
Republican lawmaker falls to Abramoff scandal

A Republican Congressman who went to bat for Jack Abramoff's tribal clients announced he was dropping his re-election bid on Monday amid an investigation of his role in the scandal.

Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), a six-term lawmaker, made no mention of the convicted lobbyist as he withdrew from the race. But it is no secret that federal investigators are interested in the man known in court papers as "Representative #1."

According to plea deals from several figures in the scandal, Ney agreed to help Abramoff's tribal and non-tribal clients in exchange for campaign contributions, overseas trips, meals, drinks and other items of value. His former chief of staff was the latest to admit guilt in a widening corruption and bribery probe.

Ney has denied all the accusations linked to him, saying he was "duped" by Abramoff. Yet court papers indicate he was more than willing to help at least four tribes with gaming and non-gaming issues in Washington, D.C.

As chairman of a powerful committee, Ney agreed to insert language in a bill to help the Tigua Tribe and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas reopen their casinos. The effort failed but Ney repeatedly told Tigua leaders throughout the summer and fall of 2002 that Abramoff was doing a good job as their lobbyist, according to court documents and Senate testimony.

The Tiguas ended up losing $4.2 million in the scheme and eventually learned that Abramoff had helped orchestrate a campaign to shut down the Texas casinos. "A rattlesnake will warn you before it strikes," Tigua Lt. Governor Carlos Hisa said at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in November 2004. "They did everything behind our backs."

The Alabama-Coushattas were affected as well and unwittingly helped fund Ney's lavish trip to a golf resort in Scotland. The tribe has since filed a lawsuit accusing Abramoff, Ney's former chief of staff and other associates of fraud, although Ney is not named as a defendant.

The Texas matter has been the most prominent incident involving Ney but court papers show the Congressman tried to help Abramoff's clients in other ways. In July 2002, federal prosecutors allege he "agreed to sign a letter opposing the creation of a commission to study Indian gaming."

That summer, the National Indian Gaming Association -- whose members include prominent Abramoff clients and whose former lobbyist was convicted in connection with the scandal -- opposed a provision in the Interior appropriations bill to authorize the study. It was eventually killed after a contentious fight on the House floor.

Ney supported Abramoff's clients on non-gaming issues as well. In August 2002, he met with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians from California and "agreed to assist in passing legislation regarding taxation" and "to assist in an issue relating to a post office of interest" to the tribe, court documents state.

A year later, in August and September of 2003, Ney "agreed to co-sign a letter to other Congressmen to garner support for awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to one of Abramoff's most important clients," prosecutors alleged. That year, Ney co-sponsored a bill to award the medal to Philip Martin, the chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Abramoff's biggest tribal client [H.R.1628: Chief Martin Congressional Gold Medal Act].

Also in 2003, Ney met with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez on behalf of a tribe. He allegedly told Martinez that one of his "priorities would be housing for Native Americans," which never surfaced as an issue for the Congressman until his dealings with Abramoff.

Even as the connections surfaced, Ney refused to drop his campaign. "I don't believe I'm going to be indicted," he said on Fox News in May.

But he failed to bring in any new contributions to his legal defense fund in recent months and he refused to give the Department of Justice more time to investigate. With his re-election over, he can now use an estimated $420,000 in campaign funds for his legal effort.

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Abramoff Report:

Pre-2001 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | Undated | Finance

Relevant Links:
Rep. Bob Ney -
Ney for Congress -