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September 16, 2006
Na Na Ney Ney Goodbye

Bob Ney became the first lawmaker to admit corruption in connection with Jack Abramoff yesterday, pleading guilty to conspiracy and false statements regarding gifts he received. Ney came up with a new excuse for his abrupt fall as he entered his plea:

Representative Bob Ney of Ohio admitted Friday that he had effectively put his office up for sale to corrupt Washington lobbyists and a foreign businessman in exchange for illegal gifts that included lavish overseas trips, the use of skyboxes at sports arenas in the Washington area and thousands of dollars worth of gambling chips from London casinos.

In a plea agreement announced by the Justice Department, Mr. Ney, a six-term Republican who once seemed poised to rise far in the House leadership, admitted to a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy and to making false statements about the gifts.

With the agreement, Mr. Ney became the first member of Congress to acknowledge criminal acts in the investigation of the former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, an inquiry that threatens to ensnare other Republican lawmakers and dim the party’s hopes in the November elections.

Although Mr. Ney could face up to 10 years in prison, federal prosecutors said they would recommend a 27-month sentence for the lawmaker, who announced last month that he was abandoning his campaign for another term. He could also face up to $500,000 in fines.

Ney's actions demonstrate the corrupting influence that the power of earmarks and secret appropriations bring. He accepted thousands and thousands of dollars in gifts and even cash for gambling in exchange for the pork he delivered to Abramoff's clients. The ability to designate funds to specific no-bid contracts and unchallenged grants attracts the worst elements in politics and transforms our legislative system, especially regarding appropriations, into a garage sale where the highest bidders get the treasures of the nation on the cheap.

Of course, in this age of victimhood, Ney had to come up with an explanation to pull on our heartstrings even as he admitted selling us out to corruption and self-enrichment. The Congressman announced that he has entered a treatment center for alcoholism this week, while the statement (made through his attorneys) insisted that his dependency didn't excuse his actions. However, the statement didn't address why he felt it necessary to announce his alcoholism in practically the same breath as his guilty plea.

Ney suffers from a dependency, all right: an addiction to power and money. Alcoholism doesn't force people to take bribes and sell out their offices for their personal benefit. That impulse comes from another flaw -- greed.

Just as with Randy Cunningham, nothing he did benefitted Congress as much as his departure.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 16, 2006 12:06 PM

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