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Ohio Congressman’s Legal Payments on Hold

July 17, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Rep. Bob Ney hasn’t paid legal bills in six months, even as a federal probe of influence-peddling in Congress appears to close in on the Ohio Republican.

``Payment will be taken care of in due course,″ said Mark Tuohey, the lead lawyer at Vinson & Elkins LLP in Washington, the firm Ney retained and paid $232,381 between August 2005 and Jan. 5.

Tuohey said Ney ``needs money for his campaign and that’s a priority right now. He intends to pay. He’ll pay his fees, I have no doubt about that.″

Ney hasn’t been charged, but the Justice Department has documented claims by lobbyists that he performed official acts in exchange for things of value. Ney, who denies any wrongdoing, said he eventually will use a separate legal defense fund to pay his lawyers. That fund started raising money in January and collected $40,000 by March 31, the latest data available.

Tuohey and Ney declined to comment further about payment arrangements.

For the first three months of 2006, Ney blamed legal costs for causing his re-election campaign to spend more than it raised. This time it was unusually intense campaigning in his rural district that caused the six-term incumbent to spend $52,675 more than donors gave him in the last three months, he said.

``I’m embattled and attacked; I understand that,″ said Ney, who was outraised last quarter by his lesser-known Democratic opponent, Zack Space.

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Campaign finance reports: http://www.fec.gov

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