May 09, 2006
Abramoff claims another victim

Darn those devious former chiefs of staff anyway.

A Washington lobbyist who formerly served as chief of staff to Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) pleaded guilty today to a federal conspiracy charge in a continuing corruption probe surrounding disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Neil G. Volz, 35, who worked for Ney from 1995 to 2002 before joining Abramoff's lobbying firm, pleaded guilty to a single count, admitting that he conspired with Abramoff and others to commit fraud and to violate a federal ban on lobbying within one year of his congressional employment. The alleged fraud involved accepting and offering various inducements in exchange for "official action," prosecutors said.

"Guilty, your honor," Volz told U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in entering his plea in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Volz faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but he could receive a much lower penalty depending on his cooperation in the continuing corruption investigation, Justice Department officials said.


The plea agreement draws the investigation closer to Ney. The six-term congressman, who easily won his Republican primary last week, denies any wrongdoing and has not been charged. However, he has been identified as the "Representative #1" who has been accused in court documents of accepting various "things of value" in return for official acts as far back as 2000.

Today's plea agreement also refers repeatedly to "Representative #1," who it says accepted trips, restaurant meals and other gifts or perks in exchange for "favorable official action" and other assistance for clients of Abramoff and Volz.

If you listen closely, you can actually hear the clicking sound that dominoes make as they fall. The only question is whether or not Ney makes like DeLay and hightails it to another state.

Ohio party leaders have been quietly pressing Ney to drop out of the race for reelection to the House. So far, Ney has refused, saying he plans to continue representing Ohio's largely rural 18th District . He won 68 percent of the vote in the May 2 GOP primary against a poorly funded challenger.

As Greg in TX22 points out, perhaps they should have encouraged him a bit more loudly to do that before the filing deadline for Ohio's primaries. Anyone know what Ohio's laws are for replacing nominees, just in case?

Meanwhile, on a different front, the Public Campaign Action Front chronicles Tom DeLay's connections to Brent Wilkes, the gentleman responsible for bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. I wonder what emails may exist for this relationship.

UPDATE: More from The Stakeholder.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 09, 2006 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

Ohio law appears to be much more organized on this question than is Texas law. It looks like Ohio Revised Code section 3513.31(I) would allow Ney to be replaced if he resigns at least forty days before the general election:

If a person holding an elective office dies or resigns subsequent to the one-hundredth day before the day of a primary election and prior to the seventy-sixth day before the day of the next general election, and if, under the laws of this state, a person may be elected at that general election to fill the unexpired term of the person who has died or resigned, the appropriate committee of each political party, acting as in the case of a vacancy in a party nomination, as provided in divisions (A) to (D) of this section, may select a person as the party candidate for election for such unexpired term at that general election, and certify the person's name to the appropriate election official not later than four p.m. on the seventy-sixth day before the day of that general election, or on the tenth day following the day on which the vacancy occurs, whichever is later. When the vacancy occurs on or subsequent to the seventy-sixth day and six or more days prior to the fortieth day before the general election, the appropriate committee may select a person as the party candidate and certify the person's name, as provided in the preceding sentence, not later than four p.m. on the tenth day following the day on which the vacancy occurs. When the vacancy occurs fewer than six days before the fortieth day before the general election, the deadline for filing shall be four p.m. on the thirty-sixth day before the general election. Thereupon the name shall be printed as the party candidate under proper titles and in the proper place on the proper ballots for use at the election. If a person has been nominated in a primary election, the authorized committee of that political party shall not select and certify a person as the party candidate.

The nomination procedure for the district committee is set forth in section 3513.31(B):

If a person nominated in a primary election as a party candidate for election at the next general election, whose candidacy is to be submitted to the electors of a district comprised of more than one county but less than all of the counties of the state, withdraws as that candidate or is disqualified as that candidate under section 3513.052 of the Revised Code, the vacancy in the party nomination so created may be filled by a district committee of the major political party that made the nomination at the primary election, if the committee's chairperson and secretary certify the name of the person selected to fill the vacancy by the time specified in this division, at a meeting called for that purpose. The district committee shall consist of the chairperson and secretary of the county central committee of such political party in each county in the district. The district committee shall be called by the chairperson of the county central committee of such political party of the most populous county in the district, who shall give each member of the district committee at least two days' notice of the time, place, and purpose of the meeting. If a majority of the members of the district committee are present at the district committee meeting, a majority of those present may select a person to fill the vacancy. The chairperson and secretary of the meeting shall certify in writing and under oath to the board of elections of the most populous county in the district, not later than four p.m. of the seventy-sixth day before the day of the general election, the name of the person selected to fill the vacancy. The certification must be accompanied by the written acceptance of the nomination by the person whose name is certified. A vacancy that may be filled by an intermediate or minor political party shall be filled in accordance with the party's rules by authorized officials of the party. Certification must be made as in the manner provided for a major political party.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on May 9, 2006 11:03 AM