Thursday, April 07, 2005


Ney news being withheld?

Wouldn't you know that just as soon as we praised Stephen Koff, we'd run across something that puts him somewhat of a questionable light. This puts the Dispatch's DC reporting in bad light, too, but we've known that bulb burned out a long, long time ago.

From Media Matters:
[. . . ] DeLay's colleague, Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), has gotten off even easier. Ney chairs the House Administration Committee; recent news reports suggest that he, too, may have acted improperly in his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The Washington Post reported on March 17:

The Senate Finance Committee yesterday opened an investigation into allegations that lobbyist Jack Abramoff used nonprofit organizations to pay for a variety of improper activities, including overseas trips for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and another Republican lawmaker. Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.), the panel's top Democrat, faxed a letter to Abramoff's attorney seeking information from the Capital Athletic Foundation, a charity he created. The committee wants financial records and receipts for travel, which would include a 2002 trip to Scotland by House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and lobbyist and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed.

A December 26, 2004, Washington Post article noted:

One member of the House leadership already under scrutiny for his ties to Abramoff, House Administration Committee Chairman Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), used the MCI Center [an arena in Washington] box, and his chief of staff was later hired by Abramoff. A Senate panel investigating Abramoff released e-mails last month showing that Abramoff directed a Texas tribe to contribute $32,000 to Ney in 2002, days after Ney took steps to sponsor legislation sought by the tribe.

Abramoff's fundraising log shows an event for Ney at MCI Center on March 15, 2001. FEC records show that Abramoff and three men associated with him in a Florida-based casino cruise line called Suncruz each donated $1,000 to Ney that day.

Ney had been helpful to them the year before, when Abramoff and a partner, Adam Kidan, were embroiled in acrimonious efforts to buy Suncruz. In an unusual step, Ney criticized the cruise line's owner, Gus Boulis, in statements placed in the March 30, 2000, Congressional Record, putting pressure on Boulis to sell; he then praised Kidan as Suncruz's new owner when the sale went through.

It almost goes without saying that Ney's dealings with Abramoff, which are being investigated by the Senate Finance Committee, haven't been mentioned - not a single time - on ABC, NBC, or CBS. Nor has The New York Times mentioned the two men in a single article - ever.

Perhaps more surprising is that the two major newspapers near Ney's congressional district - the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Columbus Dispatch - have combined to publish just one article that mentions Ney and Abramoff this year. [emphasis added]

On March 10, the Dispatch reported:

Faced with new questions about a 2002 trip to Scotland, Rep. Bob Ney denied any wrongdoing and said yesterday that he would be happy to discuss the matter with the House ethics committee.

The St. Clairsville Republican has found himself in a scandal involving controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The latest twist concerns whether Ney accurately identified on a House disclosure form the sponsor of the Scotland trip, which included a golf outing at the famous St. Andrews course.

Ney said through a spokesman yesterday that Abramoff told him the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy Research paid for the trip, and that the purpose was to meet with government officials and attend a famous military festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

A report published yesterday in the Los Angeles Times quotes a center official denying that the research group - on whose board Abramoff used to serve - paid for the trip.

That's the only article the Dispatch has published on the topic since November. The paper's readers have not yet been told, among other things, that the Senate Finance Committee is now investigating the matter.

Still, they aren't as out of the loop as readers of the Plain Dealer. The last article that paper published that mentioned Ney and Abramoff came on December 10, long before the recent disclosures in The Washington Post.
One tiny correction: On March 28, as part of a long editorial on DeLays problems, the editors entire coverage of the Ney angle is reduced to this one parenthetical (literally) statement:
The Los Angeles Times reported at length on his ties to a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, under investigation for his extremely lucrative dealings with several Indian tribes seeking his and others' influence in casino deals. (Among the others is Rep. Bob Ney, the St. Clairsville, Ohio, Republican whose 2002 golf trip to St. Andrews in Scotland may have been improperly funded by Abramoff.)
But, still no mention of the Finance Committee investigation . . .


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