Ney Strikes Plea in Abramoff Lobbying Scandal

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

(1st Add: Includes comments from House Speaker Dennis Hastert.)

( - Congressman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) admitted Friday to criminal conspiracy and making false statements in the Jack Abramoff scandal. He faces 27 months in prison as part of a plea agreement.

Ney's confession makes him the first lawmaker to admit guilt in the Abramoff investigation. Ney admitted that he did not disclose gifts he received from lobbyist Abramoff valued at over $170,000 on financial disclosure forms to Congress.

According to court papers, Ney offered legislation to benefit Abramoff's clients three times in 2002 in exchange for gifts. He also helped another client win a multi-million-dollar government contract for wireless communications.

"I am not making any excuses, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Ney said in a written statement. "Over the years, I have worked to help others, but now I am the one that needs help."

Ney admitted to making "serious mistakes," adding that he is "very sorry for the pain I have caused to my family, my constituents and my colleagues."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) condemned Ney's illegal actions.

"The illegal behavior that Congressman Bob Ney has admitted doing is unacceptable. I am glad he has recognized and accepted the consequences of his actions. My thoughts and prayers are especially with him and his family at this time," said Hastert.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Ney's guilty plea "confirms what we have long said: the Republican culture of corruption has pervaded Congress."

She called on "those who have benefited" from the GOP "culture of corruption to be held accountable."

"Mr. Ney's criminal dealings with Jack Abramoff and others also remind us that, in the face of overwhelming evidence of the auctioning off of Congress to the special interests," Pelosi added, "the Republican Leadership has done nothing to return the Congress to the control of the American people.

"Republicans have failed to pass a single substantive reform -- instead proceeding with shams like yesterday's earmark bill that does not save one penny or prevent one earmark," Pelosi continued.

In his prepared statement, Ney seemed to blame his admitted criminal conduct on an addiction to alcohol. Ney's attorney said he is being treated for alcohol dependency and Ney said that he is seeking "professional help" for his "problem."

"I am hopeful that with counseling, time and the support of my family and friends," Ney said, "I will be able to deal with my dependency."

See Earlier Stories:
Bellwether Buckeye State Again Crucial to GOP Hopes (Aug. 09, 2006)
Former Lobbyist Will Name Names in Capitol Hill Corruption Probe (Jan. 04, 2006)
Liberal Group Wants Help to File Complaint Against Ohio Congressman (Dec. 09, 2005)

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