Republican Slammed by 'Non-Partisan' Group for Lobby Ties

By Jered Ede | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

( - A group boasting of "non-partisan" efforts to rein in "the big money corporate agenda" in Washington Wednesday launched a negative advertising campaign to try to defeat Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney.

The Campaign for America's Future (CAF) used a teleconference to detail the alleged connections between Ney's actions in the House and campaign contributions from lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose dealings are under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

The CAF has teamed up with the one-woman group Ohioans for a Cleaner Congress (OCC) to push a $15,000 newspaper ad campaign aimed at ousting Ney in the 2006 election.

Ney "is a creature of the Washington Beltway," Ellen Miller, deputy director of CAF, said in the teleconference. "He is out of touch. Just who does Ney represent?"

Ney represents Ohio's 18th congressional district, was first elected in the Republican landslide of 1994, is in the middle of his sixth term and chairs the House Administration Committee.

Becky Sheline, founder, director and sole member of the OCC, accused Ney of being "needlessly involved" in issues not affecting his congressional district and having campaign soirees with lobbyists who have "possible ties to the Mob," a reference to individuals with whom Abramoff is alleged to have associated.

Miller and Sheline also called on House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to initiate an independent investigation of Ney's connections with lobbyists.

On its website, the CAF is described "as a non-partisan group."

Thursday, Miller said CAF would look at both Democrats and Republicans," but when asked by Cybercast News Service whether she had investigated any ties that Democratic lawmakers have to lobbyists in the nation's capital, Miller replied that "no we have not, not yet."

The Washington Post reported on June 2 that Abramoff supervised about two dozen lobbyists at the Greenberg Traurig firm in Washington, D.C., and that many of them were Democrats. The article also pointed out that among the biggest beneficiaries of Abramoff's political contributions between 1999 and 2001 were then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, (D-S.D.) and Sen. Harry Reid, (D-Nev.) who ended up replacing Daschle as minority leader when Daschle was defeated in the 2004 election.

Another well-known Democrat, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, (D-R.I.) also reportedly collected the second largest amount of political donations overall from Abramoff's firm between 1999 and 2001 -- $128,000. U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, a Republican from Montana, collected the most money, according to the Post.

Sheline alleged that Ney's dealings with Abramoff, a Texas casino and a Florida cruise line have proven that he "no longer represents the people of Ohio."

The advertising campaign is set to begin on Thursday and will appear in two local papers in Ney's district. The full page ads feature a group of playing cards with Ney's face on the Queen of Clubs. Below that is a list of accusations behind the catchphrase, "Bob Ney is betting you don't care. ... It's time to call his bluff."

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