Did Allen Stanford get the Jack Abramoff treatment from Bob Ney?
Mr. Ney: Mr. Speaker —
Whereas, Allen R. Stanford has been recognized as the 2006 Recipient of the “Excellence in Leadership Award” by the Inter-American Economic Council ; and
Whereas, Allen R. Stanford has been acknowledged for his performance and leadership in the areas of finance and investments; and
Whereas, Allen R. Stanford should be commended for his service as the CEO of the Stanford Financial Group based in Houston, Texas.
Therefore, I join with the residents of the entire 18th Congressional District of Ohio in honoring and congratulating Allen R. Stanford for his outstanding accomplishments.
We already knew that Stanford and Ney, who sat on the House Financial Services committee, were tight. Here they’re positioned right next to each other at a 2004 Washington event put on by the Stanford-backed Inter-American Economic Council.
(Looks like Ney even got a speaking gig at that event).
And Ney’s chief of staff, Wil Heaton — who also pleaded guilty in connection with the Abramoff scheme — went on that now-famous (kind of) 2005 junket to Antigua for lawmakers and their aides, paid for by the IAEC.
But the statement unearthed by the Sunlight Foundation suggests the relationship was even cozier. Indeed, it fits an intriguing pattern:
According to Abramoff’s plea agreement, one of the “official acts” that Ney took on behalf of Abramoff was an October 2000 agreement “to insert a statement into the Congressional Record which praised the new owner of the Florida gaming company, Abramoff’s business partner.”
The Abramoff partner was Adam Kidan, who in 2005 pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud in connection to his venture with Abramoff. Abramoff and Kidan gave $10,000, in Ney’s name, to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Just as Abramoff and Kidan sought to get a PR boost by having nice things said about them in Congress, Stanford may have also have stood to benefit from Ney’s move. Stanford’s ability to attract investors depended on maintaining a sterling reputation. Having his “outstanding accomplishments” praised in the Congressional Record could go a long way to polishing that reputation.
What might Ney have gotten in return? Well, he received $26,200 in campaign contributions from Stanford Financial Group employees. And, even more interestingly, the Sunlight Foundation’s Paul Blumenthal notes that the majority of that sum, $14,200, came just over a month after the Congressional Record statement — after Ney had gotten nothing from Stanford for all of 2005.
Blumenthal also notes that, during more trying times for the congressman, Stanford became a contributor to Ney’s legal defense fund.
So, memo to federal investigators: if you see Bob Ney praising anyone else in the Congressional Record, it might be worth getting a little suspicious.