Thursday, June 29, 2006

Waiting for Ney

Well, the left side of the blogosphere is thrilled with the news that Congressman Bob Ney has lost the three most senior staff in his Washington office, and that his District Director has been subpoenaed to testify in the Abramoff probe. In reality they shouldn't be so excited, because this probably means that Mr. Ney is getting ready to resign.

First Roll Call's take on it:

Three Top Ney Aides Departing; District Aide Subpoenaed
Thursday, June 29; 3:52 pm
By John Bresnahan,
Roll Call Staff

The top three aides for Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) are leaving, or already have left, the Ohio Republican’s office, the latest sign that Ney’s legal and ethical troubles stemming from the Jack Abramoff scandal are growing worse with each passing day.

Will Heaton, Ney’s chief of staff, and Brian Walsh, the communications director, are planning to leave Ney’s staff soon, according to sources close to the office. Walsh will accept a job as communications director for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), while Heaton’s destination is unknown. Heaton recently was married and was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Chris Otillio, Ney’s legislative director, left the office last Friday, the sources said.

In addition, Matt Parker, district director in Ney’s office in St. Clairsville, Ohio, was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury conducting the Abramoff probe. Additional subpoenas of Ney’s staffers are expected soon, said a source familiar with situation.

...Ney has denied any wrongdoing in his dealings with Abramoff, but the Ohio Republican was implicated in several recent plea agreements obtained by the Justice Department, including that of Neil Volz, his longtime chief of staff and close personal friend. Volz pleaded guilty on May 8 to conspiracy to commit fraud and violating the one-year ban on lobbying by former top Congressional aides. Volz already has testified for the government during the recent trial of former Bush administration aide David Safavian, who was convicted two weeks ago of making false statements and obstructing an investigation into his own relationship with Abramoff.

Ney also was implicated in Abramoff’s own plea agreement with Justice, as well as the plea agreements of Tony Rudy and Mike Scanlon, both former aides to ex-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas)...

Just a reminder that under Ohio law, if Ney steps aside before August 19, there will be a primary to select a new Republican candidate, who will probably cruise to re-election. This is the last thing the Democrats want - to replace an incumbent who probably can't win with a newcomer who probably can't lose.

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