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Ney Remains Popular Despite Investigation

Lobbyist Jack Abramoff on Tuesday pleaded guilty to trying to bribe Ohio Congressman Bob Ney with, among other things, a trip to Scotland. Also on Tuesday the head of the state Democratic Party called on Ney to resign his committee chairmanship. In spite of growing negative publicity, WOSU's Sam Hendren reports Ney remains popular in his eastern Ohio district.

Though the Jack Abramoff story is big news around the country, people in Bob Ney's district don't seem that concerned. Many local democratic leaders give Ney high marks for the work he does on behalf of his constituents. Mark Thomas is president of the Belmont County Commission.

"He has been able to associate himself with his constituents on a regular basis. He's very visible. He's very accessible. And I think there is a general ground swell of support until something major happens," says Thomas.

Part of Ney's popularity is due to the millions of federal dollars he's brought to the district and to the state of Ohio. But he's also broken ranks with the Republican Party at times to support coal miners and steel workers. According to Democratic State Senator Charles Wilson of Bridgeport, local voters will await the outcome of the Ney investigation.

"I don't believe we should pass judgment until he's had his day.' I think we should wait and see when he has his day in court what he can say to defend himself," says Wilson.

Earlier this week, however, the head of the state Democratic Party called on Ney to resign his House committee chairmanship. A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee condemned Ney as a leader of the Republicans' culture of corruption. Sam Hendren, WOSU News.