18th District Reacts to News of Ney’s Guilty Plea

Ohio Congressman Bob Ney says he’s made serious mistakes and is sorry for the pain his wrongdoing has caused. Ney’s statement follows news that the 18th district congressman has agreed to plead guilty to federal charges connected to a probe of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But reaction in parts of the 18th district is muted.

Ever since it was disclosed that Bob Ney was under federal investigation, the 6-term congressman has proclaimed his innocence. Here he is speaking last January at a campaign rally in Chillicothe.

“Fiction will soon be separated from fact. My name will be cleared. I will be vindicated at the end of the day, this I promise you,” Ney said.

Federal officials investigated a series of dealings Ney had with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, including a controversial golfing trip to Scotland in 2002. As the corruption probed deepened this summer, Ney announced that he would not run for re-election. In court papers, Ney acknowledges that he received improper gifts in exchange for using his influence to help Abramoff’s clients.

“Evidently he’s guilty or he wouldn’t have gotten in trouble,” said a man in Newark.

Many people on the square in downtown declined to comment on tape about the congressman’s admission of guilt, but several echoed the sentiments of Matthew Connors from Columbus who was walking past the Licking County courthouse.

“It’s very typical of what’s been happening in the whole Republican scene lately – denial, denial, denial – then an admission of guilt,” Connors says.

Connors says Ney should now resign from Congress. Ney is the first lawmaker to admit wrongdoing in the Abramoff investigation. Federal prosecutors plan to recommend a 27-month prison term for the Belmont County native. His attorney says Ney has begun treatment for alcohol dependency and will likely make a formal admission of guilt in court on October 13th.

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