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Rep. Ney resigns from Congress

Saturday, November 4, 2006

By DAVID HAMMER

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, who pleaded guilty last month in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation, resigned from Congress on Friday.

The Ohio Republican, who had been pressed to quit by fellow lawmakers, sent a letter of resignation to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, according to Ney's chief of staff, David Popp.

"I can confirm the letter has been delivered to the speaker," Popp said in an e-mail. The speaker's office would not confirm whether it had received the letter.

Ney pleaded guilty Oct. 13 to conspiracy and making false statements, acknowledging taking trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from disgraced lobbyist Abramoff in return for official actions on behalf of Abramoff clients.

House Republicans had threatened to expel Ney if he didn't quit by the time lawmakers returned to Washington after Tuesday's elections. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Ney's resignation four days before the elections was late.

"The Republican leadership has allowed Bob Ney to receive his paycheck and benefits for seven weeks after his admission of guilt to criminal conspiracy charges -- it is an embarrassment to this institution and an insult to the American taxpayer," Pelosi said in a statement.

Facing a tough election environment in Ohio, Republican candidates there had also been pressing for Ney's resignation. His hand-picked successor, state Sen. Joy Padgett, has been dogged on the campaign trail by Ney's lingering presence in office, and by other questions about her finances and business dealings.

"Bob Ney's resignation from Congress has come seven weeks too late," Padgett said. "I called on Mr. Ney to resign the day he admitted guilt, and I remain disappointed that he chose not to do so."

Ney quit his troubled re-election campaign in August and agreed to plead guilty to corruption charges Sept. 15. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 19, and he could face up to 10 years in prison. The Justice Department recommended 27 months behind bars.

Ney's three-paragraph letter, printed under his House letterhead, said, "Having completed all outstanding work in my congressional office, I now hereby resign from the United States House of Representatives effective close of business on Friday, Nov. 3, 2006."

Ney also thanked his constituents and expressed pride in the "many accomplishments that have helped improve the lives of the people in the 18th Congressional District of Ohio during my tenure of public service."

When Ney agreed to plead guilty in September, he apologized to his constituents and said he had been struggling with alcoholism. He checked into an alcohol-abuse rehabilitation program, and his lawyers have said they will try to enroll him in a prison treatment program that, if completed, could reduce his sentence by as much as a year.

Before he was forced to step down as House Administration chairman in January, Ney was in charge of House operations and known as the "Mayor of Capitol Hill."

First elected in 1994, he worked to protect fellow lawmakers from anthrax-laced mail and helped steer election changes after the 2000 presidential controversy. He also doled out parking spaces and ordered the House cafeterias to serve "freedom fries" in the backlash against the French over the Iraq war.


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