Most Americans got their last glimpse of Bob Ney in 2006 when the powerful Ohio representative resigned his office and left Washington to begin a 30-month term in federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va. A player in the Jack Abramoff scandal, Ney was a disgraced Republican with a drinking problem and an expanding waistline.
Today, he has been reborn as a sober and slimmed-down follower of the Dalai Lama and is studying meditation techniques with Tibetan monks at a Buddhist temple in India.
Ney is spending his days in Dharamsala, trying to master the Tibetan language and eagerly awaiting the return of the Dalai Lama and the chance to hear more of the exiled religious leader’s teachings.
He has declined multiple opportunities to discuss how he wound up pleading guilty to conspiring to defraud the government and making false statements. Apart from making a few comments to a columnist for The Columbus Dispatch, he has kept to himself.
But this week, Ney talked by phone to National Journal for almost 70 minutes from the guesthouse where he is renting a room for $10 a day. (“You’ve got your own bathroom,” he said.) He discussed life on the rebound, the inner peace he has found in sobriety and meditation, and his work to help wounded veterans and the homeless.