Pressure mounts for Ney to resign

Republicans are calling for Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) to resign before he appears in court next month, but some fear his enrollment in a treatment facility for alcohol abuse might prevent the congressman from heeding those calls.

Republicans in Ney’s home state of Ohio have been among the first to call for his resignation before his scheduled court appearance Oct. 13.

Joy Padgett, the Republican running to replace him, called on Ney to step down on Monday, and Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), who is locked in her own difficult reelection fight, said yesterday that her Ohio colleague should step down before his court date.

“I feel that the members from Ohio believe very strongly that Bob Ney should resign,” Pryce said during a media briefing yesterday. “It’s a tragedy that this happened to his family, but he has betrayed the trust of his constituents and his colleagues.”

Leaving that briefing, Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said he also believed Ney should resign in response to follow-up questions about Pryce’s remarks.

Pryce and others have suggested Ney’s enrollment in a rehabilitation center for alcohol abuse prevents members and staff from contacting him while he is admitted.

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has said Ney himself must determine whether or not to resign, briefly mentioned the possibility that Democrats may introduce a resolution to expel Ney from the House during the GOP’s regular closed-door session Wednesday morning, members and staff in the meeting said.

“I feel sorry for him and really feel sorry for his family, but there has been no conversations about it amongst us in terms of what he should or shouldn’t do,” Boehner told reporters on Tuesday.

Any member can call for a vote to expel the Ohio Republican after notifying leadership of plans to bring a privileged resolution to the floor – majority and minority leaders do not need to give notice to bring a resolution to the floor.

Democratic leaders are taking a wait-and-see approach to whether they will offer a resolution to expel Ney, according to a Democratic leadership aide. So far, they have avoided signaling whether or not they plan to offer such a resolution, preferring instead to keep Ney in the news so that House Republicans must continue to ask questions about him.

Boehner and some leadership aides have suggested that Ney must first plead guilty before they could proceed to expel him.

The official expulsion process, which would be managed by members of the House ethics committee, is a three-step process that requires a formal investigation – one was initiated in May – a hearing before a separate sub-panel and a vote by the entire committee. The entire House would then vote on the matter after the committee vote.

Earlier this week, Republican Reps. Rick Renzi (Ariz.) and Heather Wilson (N.M.) announced that they had donated campaign contributions they had received from Ney to charity. The Ohio Republican has not been a prolific donor this election cycle.

Ney has given $4,000 to Republican candidates this cycle, all of which was donated during 2005, according to PoliticalMoneyLine.com and the Center for Responsive Politics website.

Those contributions include $2,500 to House candidate Pat DeWine, who lost in the special-election primary to fill former Rep. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) suburban Cincinnati seat, $1,000 to Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and $500 to Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.).

Jeffrey Young contributed to this report.