Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) used his position in Congress to influence a federal land-exchange deal, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs, according to an indictment released yesterday.
The 35-count indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Tucson also accuses Renzi of separately embezzling corporate funds to bankroll his first House campaign.
The indictment makes Renzi the fourth sitting lawmaker to face federal charges since 2005 in the Justice Department's continuing crackdown on public corruption, and it represents a fresh blow to congressional Republicans struggling with numerous allegations of ethical wrongdoing in their ranks. [...]
Renzi joins as targets of Justice Department prosecution convicted GOP Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (Calif.) and Robert W. Ney (Ohio), as well as Democratic Rep. William J. Jefferson (La.), who is awaiting trial on bribery charges.
Renzi is a class act:
Renzi, who was indicted along with two alleged co-conspirators after a federal investigation that took at least 16 months, is accused of conspiracy, money laundering and other crimes.
See Beyond DeLay (what a perfect name for a website that tracks Washington's corrupt elite):
Just before Rep. Renzi's reelection in 2006, federal authorities began investigating whether Rep. Renzi used his position as a member of Congress to promote the sale of land owned by his former business partner, James Sandlin. In 2005, mining company Resolution Copper sought to mine for copper in Superior, Arizona. Before mining could commence however, Resolution needed Congress to approve a land swap. Rep. Renzi agreed to support the land exchange bill if, as part of the swap, Resolution bought a 480 acre alfalfa field in his hometown owned by Mr. Sandlin. When Resolution Copper refused the deal, Rep. Renzi solicited the Petrified Forest Group to purchase the land for $4 million. Rep. Renzi assured the group that he would make sure that the swap got through the Natural Resources Committee. After the purchase, Resolution Copper complained that Petrified Forest had received priority treatment and Rep. Renzi dropped his support for the land swap.
Federal authorities are investigating whether a $200,000 payment Mr. Sandlin made in May 2005 to Rep. Renzi is connected to the land deal. The payment was made the same day that Mr. Sandlin received the first payment from the Petrified Forest Group and went to a wine company owned by Rep. Renzi. A few days later, the wine company was sold to Rep. Renzi's father. Rep. Renzi has claimed that Mr. Sandlin paid the $200,000 to settle a debt stemming from a previous business transaction, although the payment was not noted on Rep. Renzi's 2005 financial disclosure statement. The suggestion is that the payment may have been transacted through the wine company to avoid disclosure.
On April 19, 2007, Rep. Renzi's business offices were raided by FBI agents.
Rep. Renzi sponsored legislation financially benefiting his father in a grab for $1.1 Billion in contracts. His father -- the retired Major General Eugene Renzi, owns a company that Renzi attempted to reward with earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars.
We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen...
Federal authorities in Arizona have opened an investigation into whether Rep. Renzi violated any laws by sponsoring legislation that benefited his father's employer, ManTech International Corp. In 2003, Rep. Renzi sponsored legislation (signed into law in November 2003) that earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars to his father's business while, according to environmentalists, devastating the San Pedro River. Rep. Renzi claimed he introduced the measure to prevent the closing of the Fort and to promote its enlargement. Notably, neither the fort nor the river is located in Rep. Renzi's district.
A key beneficiary of Rep. Renzi's legislation was ManTech, a Fairfax, Virginia based defense contractor where Rep. Renzi's father, Retired Major General Eugene Renzi, is an executive vice president. ManTech had $467 million in contracts at Fort Huachuca with options for an additional $1.1 billion between 2004 through 2008. In addition, the company was the largest contributor to Renzi's 2002 congressional campaign and the second largest in his 2004 campaign.
By using his position as a member of Congress to push Resolution Copper and the Petrified Forest Group to purchase land from Mr. Sandlin in exchange for legislative assistance, and by receiving $200,000 from Mr. Sandlin in return for that assistance, Rep. Renzi likely deprived his constituents, the House of Representatives, and the United States of his honest services.
By using his position as a member of Congress to push legislation that would benefit ManTech and therefore his father, Rep. Renzi may be depriving his constituents, the House of Representatives, and the United States of his honest services.
His father is a retired Major General. And who are the best war profiteers?
The good news is that the we're on the way to flush the toilet on a large group of Republicans this coming November.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!