Friday, June 23, 2006

Reserving a seat for Ney

In the Hall of Shame, that is.

Check out this squirming and word-parsing:

In the fall of 2004, Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) told Senate investigators that ... "he was not at all familiar with the Tigua" and could not recall meeting with members of the tribe, the report said.

Six days after the interview, Tigua representatives testified at a committee hearing that Abramoff had set up a lengthy meeting with Ney in his office in August 2002 as well as a conference call, and that the congressman had assured them he was working to insert language that would reopen their casino into an unrelated election reform bill. Team Abramoff and the tribe that year became Ney's biggest donors, contributing $47,500 to his campaign committees....

Ney's statements to the committee have been contradicted by others as well, including his former longtime chief of staff, Neil G. Volz, in admissions he made this year as part of his guilty plea to corruptly seeking to influence Ney on the Tigua issue.

Busted! Ney's response:

Brian Walsh, a spokesman for Ney, said yesterday that the congressman's meeting with the committee "was a voluntary meeting -- it was not conducted under oath."

Translation: "Sure, I lied -- but it wasn't illegal."

Walsh also pleads a misspelling: Ney's calendar showed a meeting with the "Taqua", not the "Tigua."

Funny stuff. But it doesn't explain why Ney further claimed he never met with an El Paso-based tribe. Even if he got the name wrong, surely the location would have stuck.

Finally, Walsh complains that the report relied on testimony from "convicted felons." Well, yeah. But one of those felons is Ney's own chief of staff. It's pretty hard to impeach that kind of testimony with character attacks.

As a side note, the report details $4 million in payments from Abramoff to Ralph Reed, carefully funneled through Grover Norquist so that Reed wouldn't be taking money directly from gambling interests. Slimy as that is, neither Reed nor Norquist are Congressmen. Although this should certainly be a factor in Reed's bid for Georgia's lieutenant governor seat.

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