After spending 17 months in prison on corruption charges, ex-Rep. Bob Ney is out with a new book that delves into his downfall and casts House Speaker John Boehner, among other Republicans, as complicit in Washington’s pay-to-play culture.
In “Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of the Hit Men of Capitol Hill,” Ney, R-Heath, writes that in the wake of the Jack Abramoff, Boehner offered to help Ney get a cushy private-sector job in exchange for stepping down from the House, according to National Journal, which got an advance copy of the book and an interview with Ney.
In October 2006, Ney pleaded guilty to two felony counts of trading legislative favors for a string of gifts, including a golfing trip to Scotland and more than $50,000 in poker chips, and then lying about his actions. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
Here’s a key snippet from the National Journal’s review:
Ney’s most dramatic accusations are against his fellow Ohioan John Boehner, the man he once saw as his biggest rival to someday being speaker. He describes Boehner as “a bit lazy” and “a man who was all about winning and money. He was a chain-smoking, relentless wine drinker who was more interested in the high life–golf, women, cigarettes, fun, and alcohol.” He said Boehner “spent almost all of his time on fundraising, not policy.” He “golfed, drank constantly, and took the easy way legislatively.” Ney recalled Boehner handing out checks on the House floor and said his ties with a tobacco company were so tight that lawmakers could get free cigarettes from Boehner’s office. His golfing, Ney said, was “nonstop” and “paid for by lobbyists.”
Ney wrote: “If the Justice Department were ever to make John produce receipts for his addiction to golf just for the years from 1995 to 2004, he would be hard-pressed to comply. John got away with more than any other Member on the Hill.”
The most inflammatory accusation against Boehner in the book is Ney’s contention that he ended his reelection campaign after winning the primary in 2006 only after Boehner, then the majority leader, summoned the cash-strapped and embattled congressman to his office and told him if he quit the race, Boehner would take care of him. “If you resign the next day, I will personally guarantee you a job comparable to what you are making, and raise legal defense money for you that should bury all this Justice Department problem for you,” Boehner said, according to Ney.
… But Ney said Boehner did not keep his word. “I had been lied to and ditched,” Ney said.
Here’s the response Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel gave to the National Journal:
“This is a convicted felon with a history of failing to tell the truth, making a lot of baseless accusations to try and sell books,” Steel said in a statement. “More than anything else, it’s sad. Congressman Boehner urged his friend to resign and deal with his personal and legal issues. The allegations that a resignation was traded for specific promises are untrue.”
We’ll update when the book arrives in this reporter’s mailbox, which, according to the Ney’s spokesman, will be tomorrow. In the meantime, you can read the full National Journal story here.