Saturday, May 07, 2005
"Citizens probe Ney's business deals"
Surrounded by a handful of cheering residents, Becky Sheline strode into Congressman Bob Ney's district office in downtown Zanesville on Friday, demanding answers over his involvement with a controversial business deal in 2000.
Ney, R-St. Clairsville, is accused of allegedly using his political influence to facilitate a business deal involving Washington lobbyist Jack Abramhoff in the purchase of a chain of casino ships in Florida.
"We sent Ney to Congress so he could represent us, and I don't think he's representing the values and morals of this area," Sheline said. "I feel the citizens of the 18th District deserve answers to these questions."
According to recent reports in the Washington Post, Ney inserted remarks into the congressional record on two occasions in 2000 regarding the management of SunCruz Casinos.
The timing of Ney's statements, which coincided with sales negotiations between Abramhoff associate Adam Kidan and previous SunCruz owner Gus Boulis, has raised suspicion over the extent of his involvement.
The Public Campaign Action Fund helped organize Friday's event. Group spokesman David Donnelley said that, in light of the ethical turmoil enveloping Congress, the time is now for Ney to respond.
"We still don't have any answers to these questions." Donnelley said, "And if (Ney) won't answer our group, he can at least answer his constituents."
Ney is also under suspicion for exerting his political clout on behalf of Abramhoff regarding an attempt to reopen a casino in El Paso, Texas, run by the Tigua Indian tribe in 2002.[. . .]
Walsh acknowledged Ney did receive a $1,000 political contribution from Kidan in June 2000. However, he added that Ney's office has tried repeatedly to return the funds.
Zanesville resident Jim Sheline said Friday's protest will, at the very least, attune area residents to what's going on and allow them to make their own decisions.
"A lot of people do not know what is going on," he said. "It's hidden news that nobody around here wants to talk about."
Despite vehement denials and counter-claims of political defamation by Ney's office, Zanesville resident Lue Gill said the congressman owed an explanation to those who put him in office. "There's a double standard between grassroots people like us and politicians," Gill said. "We've got a right to know where the money goes - they should be held as accountable as we are."