Friday, June 03, 2005



A congressman walks into a posh, private London gambling casino. He's been worried lately because he's run up $34,000 on his credit card. He's not worried about the cost of this particular trip though. It's all being paid for by a lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. But that $34,000 is gnawing at him. Turns out, though, this guy is LUCKY, very, very lucky! He walks out of the posh, private London gambling casino an hour later-- with $30,000 in winnings and no more worries about the credit card. Not that Bob Ney was worried about bankruptcy (even if that was allowed for individuals anymore). No, Bob Ney, Congressman Bob Ney, represents Ohio's 18th Congressional District. If you go to his official website, the first line of his bio starts out like this: "First sworn into the US Congress in 1995, Congressman Bob Ney is currently ranked the 11th Most Powerful Member of Congress..." Maybe that 11th ranking is why the nebbish-looking 50 year old congressman from ruralish Ohio is being wined and dined by a power-player like Abramoff and his "associate," public-relations consultant Michael Scanlon. Abramoff and Scanlon, an integral part of GOP House Leader Tom DeLay's powerful-but-lately-fraying political machine, were busy sharing the largesse of their ill-gotten gains from half a dozen Indian tribes looking for the right to open up some casinos in Texas. Abramoff and Scanlon scammed $82 million out of the Indians, who they called "morons," with the promise of using their influence with DeLay and other GOP heavy weights in Congress. The cat bragging he's the "11th Most Powerful Member of Congress," made out well. Aside from his "luck" at the posh and private London establishment, Ney got campaign donations and a lavish (6-figure) trip to Scotland's legendary St. Andrew's golf course.

The scam itself was drastic-- even by cut-throat GOP standards. For example, let's look at the poor Tigua tribe in far-off-- especially far off from Ney's 18th Congressional District in Ohio-- El Paso, Texas. First Abramoff and Scanlon hook up with religious-right kingpin/GOP leader Ralph Reed to shut the tribe's casino down (in the name of Jesus). A rival tribe in Louisiana has paid Abramoff for this work. Then Abramoff writes to Scanlon about the Tigua tribe's hopes to get it re-opened (direct, undoctored quote here): "I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah!!" And they do. With Ohio's Ney, as chairman of the House Administration Committee, championing legislation to re-open the El Paso casino, the Tiguas "donated" $32,000 to Ney's campaign (and paid for the nice trip to Scotland-- in a private jet). Although the Tigua paid for all this, Ney seems to have slipped up and reported the trip as a donation from a right-wing think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, unlike the Indian donation legal.

And now the connection between Ney and Thomas Noe is being investigated. Noe is the GOP Ohio kingmaker who seems to have been financing the GOP-- from Bush, Governor Taft, nearly the whole Ohio Supreme Court, Ken Blackwell (the Secretary of State who helped Bush steal Ohio in the 2004 election) right down to the bottom of the barrel: Bob Ney. Two GOP poster boys; NEY AND NOE! What a party!

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