A riveting talk by author and former Congressman Robert Ney marked the March 22 launch of my seventh radio season as co-host with Scott Draughon of the "Washington Update" series on the My Technology Law network.
I'm thrilled to be able to work again with Scott, at left, a pioneer in business radio and by now a good friend. We strive to provide an insider, uncensored look at political, regulatory, and Washington impact on the country. Washington's spin machine has so many layers that this is a joint effort. So, our toll-free call lines are always open for live dialog on-air.
Ney is a former Republican congressional leader from Ohio and author of the new book, Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of the Hit Men of Capitol Hill.
Incisive both on air and in his book, he predicted that President Obama will have great difficulty succeeding in his second-term agenda unless he narrows his focus and works diligently at achieving it.
The six-term former Congressman, at right, is embarked on an unusual journey. He went from being one of the nation's most powerful Congressman to a prison cell. Now free from that confinement and his self-imposed chains, his book is a gripping portrait of Washington life and his return to his roots in Appalachia.
Ney's message is that Washington's corruption is far more extensive than the Jack Abramoff scandal that led to his guilty plea on corruption charges in 2006. Released from prison in 2010 and now a radio show host in Wheeling, West Virginia, Ney has nothing to lose by sharing in blunt detail what he has seen and learned. I gave the book a highly positive review last week, and suggested that its details are worth much more in-depth discussion. That opportunity is now.
The show's audience is heavily comprised of business professionals, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and technologists nationally drawn by my co-host, Scott, over his decade building the radio network. His vision and book, The Art of the Business Radio Show, established him as a pioneer in the new media sector targeting professionals.
Our recent guests on the Washington Update series include prominent newsmakers, authors, and other public affairs experts. Review the list of past guests, and visit our archive to hear previous interviews selected from recent years. We welcome audience recommendations, which can be made via the email address above. There is no fee to participate, only a requirement that the guest provide solid insight of value to listeners.
During the March 22 show, Ney alleged that Republican leaders, most notably Speaker John Boehner, deceived Ney into giving up his Congressional seat in 2006. He says this leding his indictment, guilty plea, and the ability of Republican leaders to put the Abramoff scandal behind them by providing reformers with a sacrificial lamb, Ney.
Ney said that he resigned his Congressional seat in August 2006 after winning his GOP primary with 69% of the vote only because Boehner promised to arrange a non-government job at a salary at least as high as the Congressional salary.
Boehner never returned phone calls regarding such a job after the resignation, Ney said. Instead of help, he received from the Bush Justice Department an indictment on corruption charges in mid-September. With no job or funds for a defense, he pled guilty even though he believes most violations of his kind are handled by the House Ethics Committee in a non-criminal manner.
On the whole, however, Ney says he looks at the positive. So, he believes his indictment and imprisonment made him stop drinking and otherwise a better person. Much of his book is a well-done description of how he confronted his vulnerability to the lifestyle excesses prevalent in Washington, and obtained recovery.
At the end of our show March 22, my co-host asked Ney to draw on his experience as a GOP leader in providing instruction to incoming members of Congress.
Ney listed a half-dozen practical tips. His advice included listening to constituents as well as lobbyists, remaining careful to guard against staff overzealousness -- and rejecting arty leadership advice when it is wrong. "If it doesn't look right," Ney advises any politician now, "don't do it."
Scott asked Ney if a member would be likely to be re-elected upon following his advice.
"Probably not!" Ney said with a short laugh.
Programming Note: We have postponed until April 19 the appearance originally planned March 22 for Jeanne Bishop, a Cook County assistant public defender, law professor, and legal reform advocate.
Related News Coverage
Justice Integrity Project, Former Rep. Bob Ney's Book Alleges Corruption, Andrew Kreig, March 13, 2013. Former Congressman Robert Ney of Ohio last week created headlines, at least within Washington's insider media, by publishing his memoir, "Sideswiped." The book recounts his political career, imprisonment for corruption, and efforts to redeem himself through Alcoholics Anonymous and otherwise. Ney describes a process of political, selective prosecution -- sometimes with the media as complicit at the service of prosecutors who seek applause for easy convictions instead of justice. He alleges that the Justice Department and White House used him as a scapegoat after the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal erupted in 2006. Ney alleges that he was sacrificed to appease reformers, thus sparing others better-connected but more deeply corrupt. This kind of result-oriented justice is at the core of our Project's investigative work. We could not research the leads, however, without evidence provided by insiders.
Time, Swampland, Bob Ney, Sideswiped', Alex Rogers, March 8, 2013. Wednesday night Bob Ney, the only Congressman convicted in the 2006 Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, spoke two blocks from the Capitol at the old politicos hangout, the Monocle. A C-SPAN duo and crowd of twenty to thirty gathered around the 5’8’’ 58 year-old to hear about his new book, Sideswiped, which has recently attracted press from almost every major political media outlet for its portrait of Speaker of the House John Boehner.
The Hill, Bob Ney rips Boehner in his new book, Bob Cusack, March 5, 2013. Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) rips Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the George W. Bush administration and the press in his new book that focuses on the Jack Abramoff scandal that rocked the nation’s capital. In 2006, as the Abramoff scandal was intensifying around the then-radioactive Ney, the former Ohio legislator said Boehner had offered him a deal. “If you resign in the next day,” Ney quoted Boehner, “I will personally guarantee you a job comparable to what you are making, and raise legal defense money for you.” Ney took the deal, but alleged Boehner never lived up to his side of the agreement, writing, “The phone silence from Boehner was deafening.”
TJ Walker.com, Former Rep. Bob Ney Calls Boehner A 'Relentless Wine Drinker, TJ Walker, March 6, 2013 (Video commentary: 2:43 min.).
Politico, Bob Ney: ‘Sideswiped’ isn’t about revenge," Patrick Gavin, March 8, 2013. If former Rep. Bob Ney was looking for a second act in Washington, D.C., his new memoir may have firmly shut that door. And Ney says he’s OK with that. “I don’t view it as my way to get back at people,” Ney, who resigned in 2006 and spent more than a year in prison after pleading guilty to corruption charges, told Politico. “I view it as my way to really give the picture of the intricacies of what happened. Nobody’s going to die over this. Nobody’s going to melt down. I have nothing to lose at this time in my life, so I can tell my version, which I feel has accuracy to it. I’m not out at this point in my life to convince somebody.” Ney’s book is, in many ways, the opposite of the post-prison memoir of his one-time friend and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. That book adopted a more conciliatory tone and settled fewer scores. “I think Jack’s book was sterilized,” Ney said of Abramoff’s book, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist. “He wanted to spare everybody. Jack didn’t have to butcher everybody but, Lord, what a sterile version.” And, if you think Ney’s book - which has some harsh things to say about Speaker John Boehner, among others - is a score-settler, the former Ohio Republican lawmaker thinks it’s actually quite tame. “If I really wanted to make a hot, salacious book, there’s a lot more I could have put in,” he said, without elaborating.
Huffington Post, John Boehner: Bob Ney Book Filled With 'Baseless And False' Accusations, March 6, 2013. House Speaker John Boehner says former Republican colleague Bob Ney is a disgraced congressman who went to jail and that Ney's criticisms of Boehner in a new book are "baseless and false."
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
Atlantic, How Americans Lost the Right to Counsel, 50 Years After 'Gideon,' Andrew Cohen, March 13, 2013. You have a right to an attorney in a criminal case, even if you cannot afford one. The Supreme Court said so half a century ago. But today that precious right is systematically ignored or undermined. Next Monday, America will quietly mark one of the most profound anniversaries in its legal history. Exactly 50 years ago, on March 18, 1963, the United States Supreme Court unanimously announced in Gideon v. Wainwright that the Sixth Amendment guarantees to every criminal defendant in a felony trial the right to a lawyer. "Reason and reflection," Justice Hugo Black wrote, "require us to recognize that, in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him."
Legal Schnauzer, Richard Scrushy's Tenacity Might Unearth Evidence Of Prosecutorial Corruption In The Siegelman Case, Roger Shuler, March 27, 2013. Richard Scrushy, codefendant in the political prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman, is one of the most controversial figures in modern Alabama history. He seems convinced that he was wrongly convicted, that a broken justice system punished him for a non crime, and he remains intent on proving it. I admire that kind of principle and backbone in anyone. And in Scrushy's case, he is absolutely on target--he and Siegelman were railroaded by a bevy of corrupt lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and political operatives. In his most recent brief to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit of Appeals, Scrushy points to the existence of evidence that likely will prove he and Siegelman never should have been prosecuted, much less convicted, under the law. Will Scrushy be allowed access to that evidence, and will he be able to use it in a way that shows the Siegelman case was a cheat job of monstrous proportions? Those questions are at the heart of Scrushy's pending appeal, which included oral arguments before a three-judge panel in Atlanta on March 19.
Al.com, Richard Scrushy, out of prison but still fighting conviction; 11th Circuit hears appeal, Kim Chandler, March 19, 2013. More than six years after his conviction, and nearly eight months after being freed from prison, Richard Scrushy is still fighting to overturn his conviction in a government corruption case. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments this morning in Scrushy's efforts to obtain a new trial. Scrushy's lawyers have argued the trial judge erred in denying Scrushy's motions without an evidentiary hearing as well as denying related discovery requests. “We’re entitled to a new trial,” Scrushy lawyer Art Leach said after the arguments “We’re hopeful that we will get a hearing and get discovery and the truth will come out and we will have a new trial,” Leach said. Here is the Scrushy brief to 11th Circuit. Scrushy, who now lives in Houston, did not attend the arguments in Montgomery federal court.
Above the Law, Attorney Jumps To Her Death Cradling Her Baby; The Baby Is Fine, Elie Mystal, March 15, 2013. A lawyer, Cynthia Wachenheim, on leave from the Manhattan Supreme Court, jumped to her death from a Harlem apartment with her 10-month-old son strapped to her body in an Ergo baby carrier. The baby survived. I know that society requires and expects me to use restraint or even show sympathy for suicide “victims.” But I just can’t muster the will to conform to social conventions in this case. This woman left behind a 13-page suicide note (of course a lawyer leaves a 13-page suicide note) explaining that she thought her baby had cerebral palsy based on internet research (doctors found nothing wrong with the child). When nobody believed her crazy rantings, her solution was to try to kill her own child — as if even an actual diagnosis of CP was worse than death.
Think Progress, Cable News Obsessively Covers Cuts To White House Tours, Virtually Ignores Cuts To Programs For The Poor, Aviva Shen and Adam Peck, March 14, 2013. Thanks to Congressional gridlock, automatic budget cuts took effect 14 days ago, threatening 700,000 jobs and gutting funds for vital programs in housing assistance, early childhood education, disaster relief, and national security. Secret Service staffing was also impacted, prompting the cancellation of White House tours last week. Republicans immediately attacked the decision as a political move designed to turn the public against the sequester and 14 Republican senators signed a letter demanding information. The media has also latched on to preserve the White House tours, while largely ignoring other much more devastating sequester cuts.
New York Post, DC probes NYU loan arranges, funnelled millions to execs, Geoff Earle and James Covert, March 16, 2013. Senate investigators may be done with Jack Lew, who’s already settling in to his job as treasury secretary — but now they’re training their sights on NYU, demanding the school cough up details on controversial loans and other fat compensation it gave to dozens of other top execs and faculty as well as Lew, left, The Post has learned. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wants NYU to hand over documents for loans and other perks going back more than a decade, including terms of the cushy packages and how they were calculated. In confirmation hearings last month, Grassley grilled Lew on the $1.4 million loan he got from NYU on top of his more than $800,000 salary in a five-year stint as a top executive that ended in 2006. In an e-mail last week, NYU exec Martin Dorph told school officials that NYU and its law school currently have outstanding loans to 168 people, for
a total of $72 million in loans floated by the university.Now Grassley wants to look into these financial arrangements at the tax-exempt university that receives millions of dollars in federal funds.
Huffington Post, Scott Prouty, Mitt Romney 47 Percent Filmmaker, Tells All (VIDEO), March 13, 2013. Scott Prouty, the Florida bartender who filmed Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" remarks at a Boca Raton fundraiser, joined HuffPost Live Thursday to open up on why and how he filmed the video that may have swayed the 2012 election. Prouty told HuffPost Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin and HuffPost Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim that he was turned off by Romney from the moment he entered the fundraiser and demanded food, and added that he was disturbed by the way Romney accepted a Diet Coke from him at a previous gathering at the same Boca Raton home. He said he started filming immediately when Romney began speaking. "[The 47% comment] was so diametrically opposed to what he was saying in public that I just said, I can't let him get away with this," Prouty said, adding that he believes $50,000/plate fundraisers are "a shame."
Huffington Post, '47 Percent' Filmmaker Once Saved Drowning Woman, Ryan Grim and Jason Cherkis, March 14, 2013. The bartender who put himself at risk to do his civic duty by exposing Mitt Romney's damning "47 percent" speech had found himself compelled by a similar heroic impulse seven years earlier. In 2005, the man was at work when he heard that a car had plunged into a nearby canal along Interstate 75. Realizing that he may need to cut the person out of the car, he quickly phoned a co-worker and asked him to bring a knife. The man dove into the canal and worked to free the woman, but was unable to.