On August 3, 2002, Ohio voters probably didn’t care, or even know for that matter, that their Congressman, Bob Ney (R-Ohio), was being whisked away on a chartered plane for a golf trip in Scotland. However after discovering that the golf trip was paid for by Indian gambling money funneled through religious charity foundations, and after discovering that the swanky trip was financed by disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Ohio voters will be given the opportunity this fall to prove the country’s dissatisfaction with the corruption in Washington. Ney’s former Chief of Staff, Niel Volz, and Jack Abramoff have both pleaded guilty, admitting that they bribed the Congressman in exchange for official acts influencing laws, such as supporting Abramoff’s Indian gambling clients. With Ney’s top Capitol Hill aides leaving and after federal investigators slapped a subpoena on his Ohio district director last week, Bob Ney has even described himself as “the most vulnerable House incumbent,” according to the political newsletter Hotline.
While Ney calls Abramoff a con man and claims he was duped by the scheming lobbyist, his arguments appear to hold little water when put next to his actions. According to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, when Ney filled out his official House disclosure form, he claimed that the National Center for Public Policy Research was paying for the junket and that the purpose of the trip was to give a "speech to Scottish Parliamentarians." However, that think tank denies sponsoring Ney while Abramoff’s records state that his foundation paid for the chartered jet. Also, the Scottish Parliament shows that while other members of Congress visited during the same month, at the time of Ney’s trip, Parliament was in recess. "There is no way" that he could have addressed the body, according to a Parliament spokeswoman.
Four years after the now infamous St. Andrew’s golf trip, Abramoff has been convicted and will soon be behind bars, and Bob Ney is facing one of the most contested re-election campaigns in the country as his staffers are either subpoenaed or quitting their jobs.