— From NBC's Joel Seidman, Jim Popkin, and Aram Roston
Ohio Rep. Bob Ney (R) pleaded guilty today to felony bribery and conspiracy charges resulting from the Abramoff lobbying scandal, and he will resign from Congress in the next few weeks. Ney's lawyer has asked for the congressman to be incarcerated in a facility that has an alcohol treatment program. The Justice Department has asked for his sentence to be 27 months. In a statement, Ney said, "I never intended my career in public service to end this way, and I am ashamed that it has. I never acted to enrich myself or get things I shouldn't, but over time, I allowed myself to get too comfortable with the way things have been done in Washington, D.C. for too long."
Meanwhile, a Justice Department spokesman tells NBC News that federal prosecutors in Arizona have opened a preliminary inquiry into a camping trip retiring Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe (R) took 10 years ago with two teenage congressional pages. The spokesman says the US Attorney in Arizona has started a "preliminary assessment" of the trip, after an unidentified source made allegations about the Congressman's behavior on it. As NBC News first reported, Kolbe took a trip down the Grand Canyon in July 1996 with a group that included two male 17-year-old pages who had recently left the congressional page program. National Park Service employees were also on the three-day trip, along with several Kolbe staffers and the congressman's sister. Kolbe's office denies anything improper happened on the trip.