September 16, 2006
Ney’s future in Congress uncertain
By Paul E. Kostyu and Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
COLUMBUS – U.S. Rep. Bob Ney’s troubles with the law could cost
Ohio taxpayers another $500,000 if he resigns or is expelled
from Congress after pleading guilty to conspiracy and fraud
Ney, R-Heath, has not said whether he plans to resign after he
formally pleads guilty on Oct. 13.
But if he leaves the House before the end of the year, Gov. Bob
Taft, a fellow Republican, has the legal authority to decide
whether to hold another special election to fill the rest of
Ney’s term. Such an election would cost taxpayers $500,000,
according to James Lee, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s
Ney’s attorney William Lawler was noncommittal when asked if Ney
planned to resign.
“I think he’s taking it one step at a time,” Lawler said.
Ney draws a $165,200 salary as a lawmaker. He apparently will
still be able to draw his congressional pension although there
have been recent attempts to change the law for members
convicted of crimes.
Federal law does not require Ney to leave Congress after a
conviction. But congressional rules bar him from voting if he is
convicted of a crime that carries a prison sentence of at least
two years, which Ney’s plea does.
The House also has the authority to expel a member with a
two-thirds vote or impose lesser sanctions such as censure and
The last member expelled by the House was former Rep. James
Traficant, D-Youngstown, in July 2002 following his conviction
on bribery, racketeering and tax evasion charges.
Top House Republican leaders, including House Speaker Dennis
Hastert, R-Ill., and Majority Leader John Boehner, R-West
Chester, did not return calls Friday seeking comment on whether
they thought Ney should step down or face discipline by the
Congress is almost finished this year, with just two more weeks
to go before adjourning for the fall campaign. Lawmakers also
expect to return after the election for a lame duck session to
finish up several pieces of legislation.
The state just spent $500,000 for a special Republican primary
on Thursday to find a replacement for Ney on the November ballot
after he dropped his re-election bid last month.
State Sen. Joy Padgett, R-Coshocton, won that race and faces
Dover Law Director Zack Space, a Democrat.
Taft spokesman Mark L. Rickel wouldn’t speculate whether Taft
would order another special election or leave the seat open for
the rest of the year if Ney does not finish the term.
“We haven’t heard anything,” he said. “It all depends on when
and if. We’ll address it when it comes.”
The state last held a special election in August 2005 to fill
the unexpired term of former U.S. Rep. Rob Portman,
R-Cincinnati, who became President Bush’s top trade
representative before moving over to White House budget chief.