Image: Ohio congressman Bob Ney
Bill Haber  /  AP file
Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, is only the latest member of congress to be force from his office due to scandal.
updated 10/13/2006 3:40:05 PM ET 2006-10-13T19:40:05

Rep. Bob Ney, with his guilty plea Friday in an influence-peddling case, was on his way to becoming the fourth House member this session of Congress to be forced from office because of legal or ethical problems, a dubious distinction that hasn't been matched in a quarter-century.

The scandals that have roiled the 109th Congress now nearing its end drew comparisons to the 96th Congress of 1979-81, when six House members and a senator were convicted in the FBI sting operation known as Abscam.

One House member was expelled and two others, as well as the senator, resigned as a result of Abscam. Another House lawmaker had resigned earlier in 1980 after facing unrelated corruption charges.

Ney, R-Ohio, pleaded guilty in a federal court to conspiracy and making false statements as part of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.

Timing is everything
The Ney guilty plea, coming just two weeks after revelations that Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., had sent sexually graphic computer messages to teenage male pages, gave further ammunition to the Democratic argument that repeated instances of corruption make Republicans unfit to run the House. Foley submitted his resignation immediately after the scandal broke.

Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, under indictment in Texas on campaign finance charges, left office last June.

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., resigned after pleading guilty last November to accepting more than $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors.

"Three senior Republicans have already resigned amid scandal in the 109th Congress," said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. "It is long past time for a new direction that restores integrity and civility to the House."

Dmocratic problems
Democrats, however, have not been immune from scandal problems. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., is the subject of a federal bribery investigation and a Kentucky businessman has been convicted of paying $400,000 in bribes in the same investigation. Separately, court records allege the FBI caught Jefferson on videotape taking a $100,000 cash bribe from an FBI informant.

Ney announced last August, amid the corruption investigation, that he would not seek a seventh term from his southeast Ohio district. He has not resigned, although his lawyer said Wednesday said he would do so before his sentencing on Jan. 19.

That wasn't good enough for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and other GOP leaders, who vowed to make Ney's expulsion a first order of business when Congress returns for a post-election session. Pelosi also demanded that Ney be expelled if he does not resign.

Ney would be the first House member to be expelled since former Rep. Jim Traficant, D-Ohio, who was driven out of office by his peers in July 2002. He is serving eight years in prison on bribery and racketeering charges.

Ney's resignation, or expulsion, would have no effect on his congressional pension. The National Taxpayers Union says Ney, now 52, will be entitled to about $29,000 a year when he reaches age 62.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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