Thursday, January 05, 2006


Dispatch details Ney allegations; Volz next to turn?

Stop the presses! The Happy Ney Year has delivered a journalistic surprise.

In a rare move away from their usual habit of rehashing others’ reporting and rewriting press releases, the Dispatch’s DC crew of Torry and Riskind actually bring some clarity to some of the Ney backstories. They also suggest that there will soon be a new witness against Golden Boy Bob:
The documents say:
• Ney performed favors for Abramoff clients based in such locales as California, Texas, Florida and Israel.
• The Republican from Heath, in Licking County, helped Abramoff get more lobbying clients and even met with one during a taxpayer-funded trip to Russia.
• Ney did Abramoff’s bidding by attempting to influence a variety of decisions and actions by unspecified government agencies and officials.
. . .

The most startling revelation from Abramoff’s plea agreement was his accusation that Ney met with some of the lobbyist’s clients during a 2003 trip to Europe. Records show that Ney led a congressional delegation to Russia, the Czech Republic and Great Britain between July 31 and Aug. 6, 2003, in his role as chairman of the House Administration Committee.

In a June 16, 2003, letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell notifying the Bush administration of the trip, Ney described the purpose as to "discuss with leaders of these nations voter technology, election procedures, the arts & humanities and related topics."

But Abramoff has told prosecutors that Ney met with some of the lobbyist’s clients and "among other things" agreed to help a relative of one of those clients obtain a visa for travel to the United States.
Now, we don’t necessarily agree that this was the most startling revelation, but the effect of this reporting, if nothing else, is to demolish the remaining wobbly legs of Ney’s “I obviously did not know, and had no way of knowing, the self-serving and fraudulent nature of Abramoff’s activities” excuse. It’s also a pretty strong signal to Ney loyalists that if this “ignorance” excuse continues to be the best Bob and his attorneys can muster, then it’s time to stick the fork in the congressman.

Torry and Riskind also lay out the case for why a former Ney staffer will become the fourth major witness, joining Kidan, Scanlon and Abramoff:
In addition, prosecutors likely will try to arrange a similar plea deal with Neil Volz, who served as Ney’s chief of staff before Abramoff arranged for him to take a private lobbying job. Brand said prosecutors "will try and get Volz to turn. My guess is they will be successful."
Ney must be to the point of wondering when the piling on is going to stop.


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