Sunday, January 15, 2006

Abramoff Scandal Claims More Losses

The Chairman of the House Administration Committee, Bob Ney (R-OH), is temporarily ceding his committee chairmanship the AP is reporting today. This comes after the government's plea agreement with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff made clear that Rep. Ney was implicated in wrongdoing. Reports surfaced on Friday that Speaker Dennis Hastert was pressuring Ney to step aside. Many observers thought the House Republican leadership should have taken steps to immediately remove Ney from the post after the Abramoff plea agreement became public.

The House Administration Committee will have jurisdiction over any legislative efforts to reform lobbying rules, which the Speaker has said will be the Congress' top priority in the coming weeks. Michigan's Vernon Ehlers and Florida's John Mica are the only two other Republican members of the committee with no ethical cloud hanging over them who might succeed Ney.

The Indiana Legislative Insight and the Star's "Behind Closed Doors" both report on the resignation of Barnes & Thornburg lobbyist, Neil Volz. As we reported on January 3, Volz formerly served as Ney's Chief of Staff and reportedly began lobbying less than a year after leaving that post in violation of federal law as part of Team Abramoff. B&T's managing partner in D.C., Richard Streeter, speaking on Volz departure told the Star:

There has never been a suggestion that any of the lobbying activities under investigation occurred at Barnes & Thornburg. Accordingly, we are not in a position to discuss conduct and events which do not involve our firm.

Another former member of Team Abramoff, Kevin Ring, who has also been linked to the growing scandal, is still working in the firm's D.C. office.

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