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So Bob Ney says, "I never acted to enrich myself or to get things I shouldn’t, but over time, I allowed myself get too comfortable with the way things have been done in Washington, D.C. for too long."

Never? On the score of trying to "enrich [himself]" and "get things [he] shouldn't," I think Ney's acceptance of "thousands of dollars worth of gambling chips" from Syrian-born businessman and notorious gambling man Fouad "The Fat Man" al-Zayat might qualify. In his guilty plea, Ney admitted to accepting the chips for a couple high-flying nights in a London casino. With Zayat's help, Ney walked away with "more than $50,000."

Because Ney wanted more money than he was willing to publicly declare when he re-entered the country, he had one of his staffers tell U.S. Customs that $5,000 of it was his -- Ney then re-collected the money once they were safely back in the country.

In return for Zayat's generosity, Ney helped Zayat get a U.S. travel visa. And since Zayat had a company that was seeking to sell U.S.-made airplanes and airplane parts to Iran, Ney also tried to get an exemption to U.S. laws that ban the sale of such parts to Iran.

I guess that's what Ney means by getting "too comfortable with the way things have been done in Washington?"

In a statement issued after his guilty plea today, Bob Ney said that he was "[accepting] responsibility," but then explained, "I never acted to enrich myself or to get things I shouldn’t, but over time, I allowed myself get too comfortable with the way things have been done in Washington, D.C. for too long."

He also seemed to indicate that he wasn't a totally willing participant in Jack Abramoff's "schemes," saying "I accepted things I shouldn’t have with the result that Jack Abramoff used my name to advance his own secret schemes of fraud and theft in ways I could never have imagined."

Full statement below the jump...

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Rep. Bob Ney's lawyer Mark Tuohey said in court this morning during his guilty plea hearing that Ney will not be resigning from Congress immediately -- but rather "in the next few weeks."

Tuohey said the delay came because Ney had some “constituent issues he wanted to tie up” and also wanted to ease the transition for his congressional staff. Tuohey didn't offer a specific date. Ney himself did not speak during the hearing, except to say "Yes" or "No," or "I plead guilty, your honor."

The judge set Ney's sentencing for January 19th. Ney faces a maximum of ten years, but prosecutors have said that they'll recommend a sentence of 27 months.

Tuohey also asked that Ney be considered for alcohol treatment while in prison. Ney's been in an alcohol rehab facility since he pled guilty September 15.

"Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) will formally resign from the House today, according to two House GOP sources," Roll Call reports.

The speculation has been that he would resign today, in a bid to convince the judge how very sorry he is for his crimes (or maybe he did get the hint). Justin will have more later from the scene at the courthouse.

Abramoff Figure Rep. Ney to Plead Guilty... And Resign from Congress? "Pressed by Republican House colleagues to resign, Rep. Bob Ney is the first congressman to fall in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling case, a controversy that has reached the Bush White House and Capitol Hill....

"Ney signed papers a month ago admitting to charges of conspiracy and making false statements, acknowledging that he had deprived the public of his honest services.

"The Ohio congressman says he took tens of thousands of dollars worth of trips, sports tickets, campaign contributions, meals and casino chips in exchange for legislation and public statements supporting Abramoff's clients and a foreign businessman.

"With the Justice Department recommending 27 months behind bars for Ney, the congressman may announce his decision to step down when he appears before U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle, an appointee of President Clinton.

"Longtime Washington lawyer Stephen Ryan said 'the most likely event' is that Ney will quit in front of the judge because that would represent acceptance of responsibility for his crimes, a critical issue with regard to the length of his prison term." (AP)

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Unveiling his "buck stops here" rhetoric last week, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) announced he was going to order up an independent panel to "advise us on the page program," in response to the Foley scandal. Remember?

The morning of the press conference, Ex-FBI chief Louis Freeh had been the rumored head of the panel, and the effort was thought to be an investigation -- but by the time Hastert appeared before reporters, he said only that he was "looking for a person of high caliber" to "advise" on the program.

So whatever happened to that?

In a word, nothing.

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A long-awaited report by the Senate Finance Committee accuses Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform and other Abramoff-linked non-profits with committing acts that are likely in violation of their tax-exempt status.

You can read the full report here. The document is 608 pages in total, but most of that is devoted to appendices and exhibits; the report itself is 55 pages long.

The report hits ATR for a number of activities unrelated to its nonprofit purpose. Like the Senate Indian Affairs Committee Report on Abramoff, the Senate Finance Committee criticized ATR for acting as a lobbying operation, advocating certain positions in exchange for donations from Abramoff clients.

The panel began investigating the use of charities by disgraced superlobbyist Jack Abramoff in spring 2005. A bipartisan effort, the report was released today by the Democrats alone. Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) did not release a statement on the report, nor did he announce hearings. A Grassley staffer told the Washington Post that the senator endorsed the report but said he "did not co-author the report because he had hoped it would have included Democratic groups that he believes also breached their tax status."

The panel found that ATR set up meetings for Abramoff clients with administration officials, such as President Bush and Karl Rove, in exchange for hefty contributions.

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At least three people will tell the House ethics committee that Speaker Hastert knew about Mark Foley's problem with House pages before it became public ten days ago. That testimony contradicts Hastert's public stance so far: that he learned about it from ABC News.

First, Kirk Fordham, Foley's former chief of staff, is expected to tell the House ethics committee today that Hastert's chief of staff Scott Palmer told him he'd spoken to Hastert personally about Foley's problem as early as 2002.

Neither Fordham nor his lawyer have confirmed this crucial detail on the record. But an anonymous source -- who seems to be intimately acquainted with Fordham's side of the story -- told both The Washington Post and Newsweek that this what Fordham remembers -- and that's what he'll tell the ethics committee. (Palmer has vaguely rebuffed Fordham's account of Palmer's 2002 or 2003 intervention with Foley, and one imagines that he will dispute this part of it too.)

Second, Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) says that he talked to Hastert about Foley earlier this spring. "I took it to my supervisor," Reynolds says.

Third is House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) who also remembers talking to Hastert about the matter in the spring.

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I finally had a chance to speak with Orlando do Campo, a public defender representing Jose Padilla, about his allegation that government interrogators forced Padilla to take drugs similar to LSD and PCP.

Do Campo declined to be more specific about the effects Padilla has described that make the lawyer believe his client was given those illegal hallucinogens, or how many times the alleged terrorist says he was drugged. But do Campo said that more information may come out soon -- if the Defense Department complies with an order from the judge hearing the case.

Early this year, do Campo said, Padilla's legal team asked the Defense Department to turn over Padilla's medical records from his detention at the brig of the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, S.C. The government resisted, but the judge ordered them to comply. Several months later, do Campo still has not seen a single page of those records.

If Padilla was given drugs of any kind, one could expect them to be recorded in those files. Is that why the Defense Department is having a hard time turning those documents over?

Prosecutors have asked that David Safavian get three years in prison for lying to ethics and Senate investigators about his ties to Jack Abramoff.

Safavian, a former Bush administration appointee, was convicted back in June -- the first conviction in the Abramoff investigation. Safavian's lawyer has asked that he serve no prison time, arguing instead for home detention and/or community service. He's due to be sentenced October 27.

TPMLivewire