Canton Repository

September 21, 2006

Regula: Ney should ask constituents what to do

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON Rep. - Ralph Regula has backed off from suggesting that Rep. Bob Ney resign from Congress after his admission to felonies, even though several other GOP lawmakers are urging Ney to quit.

After telling one of his aides Tuesday that Ney should resign, Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, said Wednesday he thought it over some more and determined that Ney should ask his constituents what to do.

“I just reflected on the fact that his district ought to have a voice in it,” said Regula, a powerful member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Ohio lawmaker with the most seniority in Congress.

Regula added that since a Ney resignation could deprive constituents in his district of representation for the rest of the year, “at least they should have a voice” in his decision.

“The seat really does belong to the people in that district,” he said.

CONSPIRACY, BRIBERY

Since Ney, R-Heath, admitted Friday to conspiracy and making false statements in a bribery scheme orchestrated by convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, several prominent lawmakers have followed the lead of Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett in demanding that Ney resign immediately. Ney had already announced he would not seek re-election.

Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Columbus, chair of the House Republican Conference, on Tuesday called for Ney to quit. Pryce is in a tough race to retain her seat in a year when observers believe Democrats could gain control of the House.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., agreed Wednesday that Ney should step down.

Rep. David Hobson, R-Springfield, said through an aide that Ney should ask himself whether he can be an effective representative of his constituents in the weeks ahead and base his decision on that.

Two other key Republicans, House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-West Chester, and Rep. Thomas Reynolds, R-N.Y., who leads the GOP re-election effort in the House, said the decision is up to Ney.

Ney’s replacement on the November ballot, state Sen. Joy Padgett, R-Coshocton, also called for him to resign or be expelled from Congress.

Padgett is running against Dover Law Director Zack Space, a Democrat who believes Ney should resign.

NO CALLS TO EXPEL HIM

Democratic leaders also are calling for Ney to resign for his part in the scandal, which they say illustrates a Republican culture of corruption.

The House could expel him with a two-thirds vote, but so far neither Democrats nor Republicans are proposing that.

Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Pelosi hopes Ney will resign, making expulsion unnecessary.

If Ney were to quit or be expelled, the law provides for a special election to fill the vacancy. Regula, however, said that with less than four months left in the two-year congressional session, holding a special election could be impractical and costly.

Ney acknowledged a drinking problem and entered an alcohol rehabilitation program at an undisclosed location last week. His attorneys have not said where he is or when he will return to Congress.

Congress is expected to adjourn at the end of next week for the fall campaign and would not return until November.

Ney is scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 13. After his conviction, House rules will prohibit him from casting congressional votes on behalf of constituents in his east-central Ohio district.

Regula, whose district lies immediately north of Ney’s, said he’s “not going to push him (Ney) to do anything.”

Republican leaders insist Ney’s continued presence as a congressman will not affect Padgett’s chances of keeping the seat in Republican hands.

Regula agreed it would not hurt Padgett.

“I think people run on their own situations,” he said.