Ney bows out in Abramoff scandal’s wake

Hillary Wicai Aug 7, 2006


KAI RYSSDAL: The political fortunes of Ohio Republican Bob Ney sank to pretty much zero this morning. The Congressman has been closely linked to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. And as a result, Ney announced todayhe’ll abandon his reelection campaign. Marketplace’s Hillary Wicai has that story.

HILLARY WICAI: Robert Ney hasn’t been charged with any crime. But court documents show Abramoff and his clients gave Ney gifts like Super Bowl tickets, a golf trip to Scotland and campaign donations, allegedly in exchange for support of Abramoff and his clients.

Massie Ritsch is with the Center for Responsive Politics.

MASSIE RITSCH: “From our research, Congressman Ney has received more than $35,000 in campaign contributions from Jack Abramoff, his associates. He’s toward the top of the list and it’s a list that politicians don’t want to be on in this election year.”

But it remains to be seen if ties to Abramoff will continue to ripple through elections across the country.

Analysts say it appears the association with Abramoff cost former Christian Coalition superstar Ralph Reed his primary race in Georgia last month. And although Republican Senator Conrad Burns of Montana should be a shoo-in, he’s having a tough time distancing himself from the $150,000 he took from Abramoff and his clients.

Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute believes Abramoff’s shadow could leave the whole party in power vulnerable.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN: “When scandal becomes a focal point and it’s clear you did nothing about it, that it will lead to a larger backlash. That’s just what happened when the dems were in power in 1994.”

But will the scandal continue to grow?

There’s lots of speculation as to why Ney pulled out now. Is it a signal of impending indictments? Or was he just running out of money?

Under federal law he gets to keep any leftover campaign money and could use it for his legal defense. Ney has more than $400,000 in his campaign fund.

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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