Times Reporter

January 1, 2005

No thanks, Jack - State lawmakers get rid of money from Abramoff

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON – At least two Ohio lawmakers and a senator are getting rid of thousands of dollars in what many view as tainted campaign contributions received from convicted former Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Reps. Bob Ney and Ralph Regula and Sen. Mike DeWine either have returned or donated some or all of the money or plan to, they said.

They are among hundreds of lawmakers who have received contributions from Abramoff, from Indian tribes he represented and has pleaded guilty to defrauding or from a casino he purchased, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group.

Ney, R-Heath, who is under investigation in connection with a fraud and corruption scheme that has led to the convictions of both Abramoff and his partner Michael Scanlon, has given away $6,500. His office described those funds as the sum that Abramoff, Abramoff’s wife and Scanlon gave to his campaign fund between 2000 and 2002.

Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, gave away a $1,000 contribution that Abramoff made to his campaign fund in 2001.

Separately, Regula and Ney said they donated the money to an American Indian College Fund that provides scholarships to tribal colleges.

DeWine, R-Ohio, has not received any contributions from Abramoff, federal campaign records show, but he did get a $1,000 contribution from an Indian tribe represented at the time by Abramoff. DeWine plans to return that money or donate it, his campaign manager Matt Carle said.

Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Reps. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, Ted Strickland, D-Lisbon, and Tim Ryan, D-Niles, did not get any contributions from Abramoff or Scanlon, based on a campaign records check.

But records show that Abramoff, in addition to money he gave to Ney’s campaign fund, also made a $2,500 contribution to a “leadership” fund that Ney has used to support other Republican candidates.

Brian Walsh, Ney’s spokesman, on Wednesday said the lawmaker plans to donate the $2,500 to a charitable cause.

Ney already has given away $32,000 he received from the Tigua Indian tribe in 2002. Abramoff directed the tribe to make those contributions to Ney, whom the tribe hoped would produce a bill reopening the Tiguas’ shuttered casino, according to e-mails released by Senate investigators.

Walsh said Ney gave the money to various charities and the Ohio Republican Party.

Regula does not plan to get rid of more than $10,000 in contributions he received from several Indian tribes that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, were represented by Abramoff. The congressman said he has no reason to believe the tribes gave him the money at the request of Abramoff.

Unlike Ney, Regula said he never has been lobbied by Abramoff, whom he recalls meeting just once, last year.

“I have no idea whom he (Abramoff) represented,” Regula said. He added that he’s been “involved with the Indians for over 30 years.”

The lawmaker previously chaired a House appropriations subcommittee that allocated federal funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and health care. He currently heads another subcommittee that provides funding to Indian schools.