From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Representative Rick Renzi, Republican of Arizona, was indicted this week by a federal grand jury on 35 counts of corruption, including fraud, money laundering, extortion and other crimes, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Federal prosecutors said Mr. Renzi had sought to enrich himself and to finance his re-election campaigns in part by selling fraudulent insurance policies.
In a 26-page indictment, prosecutors charged that Mr. Renzi abused the power of his office by forcing constituents to buy land from a man who was his secret business partner in exchange for Mr. Renzi’s support for legislation. The partner funneled $733,000 in proceeds from the sale to Mr. Renzi, prosecutors said.
Mr. Renzi, who is an Arizona co-chairman of Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, had been under investigation for more than two years and announced last August that he would not seek re-election this November to a fourth term.
“The charges contained in this indictment are completely unacceptable for a member of Congress,” the Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, said in an unusually pointed statement, “and I strongly urge Representative Renzi to seriously consider whether he can continue to effectively represent his constituents under these circumstances.”
Wonder if he cried…..
The investigation of Mr. Renzi was also tied to allegations that the Bush administration dismissed federal prosecutors for political reasons. Paul K. Charlton, the United States attorney in Phoenix who opened the investigation of Mr. Renzi, was one of the eight prosecutors dismissed.
Gonzogate!! Alberto Gonzales may be gone, but he left his stench behind.
At a news conference in Phoenix, Mr. Charlton’s successor, Diane J. Humetewa, described Mr. Renzi’s actions as “two courses of criminal activity and conduct.”
First, Ms. Humetewa said, Mr. Renzi “embezzled funds from his own insurance company’s trust accounts and used those funds to finance his first Congressional campaign in 2001 and 2002.” According to the indictment, Mr. Renzi and his partner in an insurance company engaged in a conspiracy “to embezzle and misappropriate client premiums.” The indictment also said Mr. Renzi falsified his Congressional financial disclosure forms.
The second course of criminal activity, Ms. Humetewa said, involved Mr. Renzi’s efforts to force constituents to purchase land from his business partner, James Sandlin, in exchange for his support of legislation that would allow the constituents to engage in a land swap with the federal government.
Mr. Renzi and two co-defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on March 6.
January 2008: Despite Being Under Investigation, Renzi Makes McCain’s ‘Arizona Leadership Team’ Along With “Influential Lobbyists.” Less than one month ago, John McCain’s campaign announced its ‘Arizona Leadership Team,’ which included now indicted Congressman Rick Renzi, who was already under investigation “for his part in [a] land-swap deal.”
April 2007: Renzi Joined McCain for “Orwellian Publicity Stunt” in Baghdad. After John McCain claimed there were neighborhoods safe enough for him to walk through in Baghdad, Cong. Rick Renzi joined him for a tour of a Baghdad market but sporting bulletproof vests while accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gun ships overhead.
June 2006: McCain Issued Fundraising E-mail For Renzi. In June of 2006, “McCain sent out a fundraising e-mail to supporters, asking them [to] help Renzi… urged fellow Republicans to support Renzi’s reelection bid.” That December Renzi attended a Christmas Party McCain held for his Straight Talk America PAC, the atmosphere of which was described as “uneasy interaction between McCain’s media ‘base’ and his new, Washington Republican donor base.”