Abramoff's $10,000 Question
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff's Oct. 23, 2000, e-mail to his business partner Michael Scanlon was, as usual, not subtle. "Would 10K for NRCC from Suncruz for Ney help?" Scanlon shot back: "Yes, alot [sic]! But would have to give them a definate [sic] answer--and they need it this week ..."
That electronic exchange, a record of which was reviewed by TIME, is among the evidence that Republican Congressman Bob Ney of Ohio accepted favors from Abramoff and Scanlon as part of an alleged quid pro quo--a charge to which the business partners each recently confessed in larger plea deals. While the plea agreements spell out various gifts, campaign donations and junkets that Abramoff and Scanlon say they provided to Ney in return for "official acts," the e-mails present in one place the specific elements of a swap that Abramoff has told investigators was prearranged and explicitly reciprocal, according to a source close to the Justice Department probe. To wit: a $10,000 donation to the Republicans just days before Ney inserted into the Congressional Record a statement praising an Abramoff business partner. Ney's lawyer, Mark Tuohey, calls the accusations "totally false."
Abramoff has told the feds, according to the source, that Ney, the chairman of the powerful Committee on House Administration, and his staff repeatedly demanded help in raising cash for the National Republican Campaign Committee--the "NRCC" of Abramoff's e-mail. Under then House majority leader Tom DeLay, Ney and his fellow G.O.P. chairmen had to meet steep fund-raising quotas or risk losing their plum positions.