By Jackie Kucinich - 02/28/07 12:49 PM EST
Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who will report today to federal prison in West Virginia, issued an emotional goodbye e-mail (see below) yesterday to friends and colleagues. He thanked them for their support over the past six months and told them he had “gained a higher power” to help him through his incarceration.
The e-mail closed with a quote from Garth Brooks’s “The Dance”: “And now I’m glad I didn’t know/ The way it all would end, the way it all would go/ Our lives are better left to chance/ I could have missed the pain/ But I’d have had to miss the dance.”
Ney will serve a sentence of 30 months on federal bribery charges. He resigned from Congress in November after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy and making false statements.
In his letter, Ney expressed a mixture of hope and regret.
“Someone asked me the other day, if I wish I had never ran for office,” he wrote. “I answered that I am glad that I did ... Nothing can erase the wonderful memories, thoughts, constituents, and changes that we, working together with the Republicans and Democrats, have been able to do.”
He expressed sorrow for the crimes he had committed and said he was willing to accept the consequences of his actions.
“My family and I have lost everything on an economical basis, house, health care, possessions, but so have other people, people in the district, many, have lost all,” he wrote. “And yes, that is painful for anyone that has gone through it, but, I am so fortunate to have my wife and children, we are so rich with family, friends like you, loved ones that are there for us, and full of hope for a good future.
“The darkest days are not ahead, I have gained a higher power, the god of my understanding, is with all of us and that allows me to view tomorrow, although as a day of loss of freedom, as a day of enlightenment and of life to come,” concluded Ney.
Ellen Ratner, a close friend of Ney’s, said the former congressman is particularly grateful that he is sober. Before his sentencing, Ney completed a month in an alcohol treatment facility.
“He has thanked me numerous times for helping him achieve his sobriety,” Ratner said. “I’m just mad at myself for not doing it earlier.”
Ratner said she dined last week with Ney and that she comforted the lawmaker and told him that his incarceration could be a positive experience.
“Obviously he is scared, but he believes he is going to get through this,” she said. “I think he has learned and knows that it can be an extremely positive experience, by using it as a time to reflect.”
“Bob made some serious mistakes, and he and his family are paying a steep price for them,” said another Ney associate, who did not want to be named. “But he’s taken responsibility for his actions and he still has many people who care deeply for him. Over the course of his long career, Bob helped countless people and thousands of lives were improved because of his hard work and compassionate spirit.”
The associate added, “It’s very sad that all of that will be overshadowed for the foreseeable future, but hopefully one day more people will look back and recognize that this is a decent man who did a lot of good and who is determined to make amends for his terrible mistakes in judgment.”
Ratner agreed. “I don’t think we have seen the last of Bob Ney,” she said. “I think people are going to see that he is a very good person. It may take some time, but they will.”
Ney first signaled the problems that lay ahead when he resigned from his chairmanship on the powerful House Administration Committee last August and announced he would not run for reelection. Ney later admitted he accepted thousands of dollars of gifts from lobbyists in exchange for legislative favors, and he formally confessed his wrongdoings in November. On Jan. 19, he became the first lawmaker sentenced for involvement in the scandal surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
His ex-chief of staff, Will Heaton, was sentenced on Monday for his role in the scandal, which included concealing thousands of dollars in gifts from lobbyists for himself and Ney.
i will not have access to e mail so this will be my last for awhile. i wanted to drop you a short e mail to give you my address:
i also wanted to thank you for all you have done for me and my family. your kind words, thoughts, and prayers throughout the last six months have helped all of us quite a lot.
someone asked me the other day, if i wish i had never ran for office. i answered that i am glad that i did. nothing can erase the wonderful memories, thoughts, constituents, and changes that we, working together with the republicans and democrats, have been able to do. working to bring jobs to the district, helping constituents with issues, and trying to change law to help people has been the greatest memory ever.
would i change things if i could, sure. am i sorry for things that happened, absolutely, and i will pay the price. but, i am grateful for many good people in our office that helped the district and grateful for a free nation, the men and women that protect it, and a wonderful constituency in the district that i used to serve.
my family and i have lost everything on an economical basis, house, health care, possesions, but so have other people, people in the district, many, have lost all. and yes , that is painful for anyone that has gone through it, but, i am so fortunate to have my wife and children, we are so rich with family, friends like you, loved ones that are there for us, and full of hope for a good future.
the darkest days are not ahead, i have gained a higher power, the god of my understanding, is with all of us and that allows me to view tomorrow, although as a day of loss of freedom, as a day of enlightenment and of life to come.
as garth brooks said in his song the dance:
and now i'm glad i didn't know
the way it all would end, the way it all would go
our lives are better left to chance,
i could have missed the pain,
but i'd have had to miss, the dance
my family and my life is starting new, thanks for being part of it.