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Ohio congressman linked to Abramoff resigns

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Bob Ney delivered his resignation from Congress on Friday, according to his chief of staff.

The Ohio Republican faced expulsion from the House following his guilty plea to multiple counts stemming from the long-running probe of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

The six-term Congressman and former chairman of the House Administration Committee faces more than two years in prison. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, had been pushing Ney to resign, threatening to expel him from the House if he refused. GOP leaders said Ney's expulsion would be their "first order of business" when Congress returned later this month.

"Bob Ney must be punished for the criminal actions he has acknowledged," Hastert said in a joint statement with Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, Republican Whip Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the leader of the House Republican Conference. "He betrayed his oath of office and violated the trust of those he represented in the House. There is no place for him in this Congress."

Last month Ney's attorney said he would resign sometime before his January 19 sentencing, but not immediately.

In his resignation letter, dated Friday, Ney wrote, "I am proud of the many accomplishments that have helped improve the lives of people in the 18th Congressional District of Ohio during my tenure of public service. Having completed all outstanding work in my congressional office, I now hereby resign."

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California on Friday criticized the GOP for letting Ney wait weeks to resign after his guilty plea.

"The Republican leadership has allowed Bob Ney to receive his paycheck and benefits for seven weeks after his admission of guilt to criminal conspiracy charges," Pelosi said in a statement. "It is an embarrassment to this institution and an insult to the American taxpayer."

Ney pleaded guilty in October to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, deprive his constituents of honest service and violate his former chief of staff's one-year lobbying ban, and a second count of making false statements to the House. Prosecutors have said they would seek a prison term of up to 27 months and $60,000 in fines at sentencing.

Justice Department documents said Ney sought to help the owner of a British company get a U.S. visa and a waiver to allow him to sell American-made aircraft parts to another country. In return, Ney got thousands of dollars in gambling chips from the businessman during a trip to London and used a staffer to carry $5,000 back into the United States for him to avoid disclosure requirements.

Ney also helped other Abramoff clients by advancing an application of one of their clients for a license to install a wireless telephone infrastructure in the House and placing statements in the Congressional Record regarding a Florida casino deal. In exchange, he and his staff received items including a golf trip to Scotland, meals at restaurants, tickets to sporting events and campaign contributions, prosecutors said.

Ney's resignation comes just before Tuesday's midterm elections. His seat is being sought by Republican Joy Padgett and Democrat Zack Space.

Pelosi noted that Ney is the fourth Republican lawmaker to have resigned under a cloud in the 109th Congress. The others are:

  • Former Rep. Randal "Duke" Cunningham of California, who resigned last year after pleading guilty to bribery charges.
  • Former Majority Tom DeLay of Texas, who announced his resignation in April in hopes the move would keep his Houston-area district in GOP hands while he battled state money-laundering charges.
  • Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, who abruptly quit in September after sexually explicit electronic messages he sent to teenage congressional pages surfaced, triggering a scandal that led to calls for Hastert's resignation.
  • CNN's Andrea Koppel and Deidre Walsh contributed to this report.

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    Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty October 13 to conspiracy and making false statements. He faces more than 2 years in prison.

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