Zach Holmes / Lantern reporter
In 2006, former Ohio Congressman Bob Ney was convicted in a lobbying scandal and later served 17 months in prison. Wednesday, he was signing copies of the book he wrote about it.
Ney signed copies of his new book “Sideswiped: Lessons Learned Courtesy of the Hit Men of Capitol Hill” at the Athletic Club of Columbus Wednesday afternoon with an intimate gathering of supporters and friends. The book details the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal in 2006, in which Ney was convicted and served 17 months in federal prison.
Ney was inspired to write the book after a “60 Minutes” report on the scandal told from Abramoff’s point of view. Ney said “Sideswiped” was finally his chance to let the public hear his side of the story.
“I thought, ‘That is kind of (Abramoff’s) version of history.’ So I decided to write what I thought was correct and accurate and also to maybe give some warning lessons to people about what the government is really like today in America,” Ney said.
Ney, who graduated from Ohio State in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in science education, was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1980 at the age of 26. Ney was elected to Congress from Ohio’s 18th district in 1994 and served until 2006, when he pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and making false statements in connection with lobbyist Abramoff.
Ney considers his book to be about more than just politics – he said it’s a story about life that can relate to anyone.
“I think anybody, whether they want to be in politics or not, can learn lessons from this book. I give an insight in this book as a lawmaker and later a lawbreaker. You have to be careful and trust your judgment,” Ney said.
“Sideswiped” also gives a detailed look into the time he spent in prison and halfway houses recovering from alcoholic substance abuse.
“I give an insight in this book as to what our prisons are really like in America. It is not rehabilitation, it is punishment and it is warehousing,” Ney said.
Ney said he did not write the book just for himself.
“I don’t expect one single human being to be sorry for me, but there are other people that can’t speak and can’t do a book and can’t go on TV, so their story is untold,” Ney said. “So I hope people read what happened to me in the prison so they understand that the system is broke(n).”
A steady flow of supporters came in and out of the low-key book signing throughout the afternoon. Former co-workers and friends in the room spoke highly of Ney and were eager to read his book.
David F. Wolfe, Ney’s barber, was in attendance to get a second copy.
“I have known him for about four years now and he helped me tremendously because I was an alcoholic,” Wolfe said. “He has been through tons of stuff and I bought it to just see what he went through and it really helps others.”
Others wanted to see Ney’s take on his own life.
“It is a piece of American history,” said Ney’s former employee Brock Miskimen.
“Sideswiped” is currently No. 1 on Amazon’s local politics most-wished-for section.
The Athletic Club of Columbus is located downtown at 136 E. Broad St.