WASHINGTON – Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, a focus of the criminal investigation into Jack Abramoff's lobbying, says he's had no conversations with the Justice Department and believes its probe will clear him of any wrongdoing.
"Look, I don't take this lightly," Ney told The Associated Press in an interview Friday after returning from a visit to Iraq. "I have not changed my stripes. I'm doing my job. I commute back home. I go out around the district. Nothing has changed for me."
Abramoff is negotiating a plea agreement with prosecutors, and a deal is expected by his Jan. 9 court date. Abramoff partner Michael Scanlon pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit bribery and identified gifts and donations Ney received in exchange for his support for their clients.
The Republican chairman of the House Administration Committee said he isn't bothered by what Abramoff might do. He acknowledged that the Justice Department has subpoenaed documents from his office, but he said he's not "sat down with them."
"At the end of the day, I am confident I will be cleared," he said. "It doesn't concern me what Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon said. We should lend credibility to them? I don't think so."
Ney disputed some details of allegations in Scanlon's plea agreement that claim Ney accepted bribes from Abramoff, including an expenses-paid golf trip to Scotland in 2002.
Ney filed disclosure forms that listed a Republican policy group as financing the trip, but the group denies paying for it.
In the interview, Ney complained about national media coverage, saying local reporters and hundreds of constituents haven't even brought up the scandals with him.
As in the past, Ney declined to explain his side of what happened on the trip to Scotland and donations he received after allegedly agreeing to sponsor legislation to help one of Abramoff's Indian tribe clients.
"I have done nothing wrong and the reason I can't comment on this is I have a side to tell of my story. And that side of my story should be told to one or two or both sources: the ethics committee or the Justice Department," he said. "I'm not going to do this in the media, and I'm sure you understand that."