Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Is Rick Renzi planning to resign?

Hat tip to The politico via Arizona Congress Watch

A week after FBI agents raided his family's business, Republican Rep. Rick Renzi of Arizona has asked to be dropped from his party's top campaign program to protect vulnerable incumbents, a clear sign that he is considering a resignation from Congress.

Renzi asked to be dropped from the Regain Our Majority Program, which raises money for the GOP's most vulnerable incumbents, an aide to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) confirmed Tuesday.

The congressman's office did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

Last week, FBI agents raided the Arizona offices of a Renzi family business as part of a federal investigation into whether the congressman was paid for helping to arrange a land swap that would allow the two largest mining companies in the world to access to a major copper lode in Arizona, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Renzi swiftly resigned his seat on the House intelligence panel on Thursday night after telling Boehner that his family's business had been raided.

Renzi's decision, however voluntary, is a clear sign that members have heeded Boehner's call for Republicans to step aside if they are in the crosshairs of a federal investigation following two years of non-stop scandal in the 109th Congress that contributed to the GOP's demise.

Rick Renzi needs to go. Even during the DeLay era, he was consistently named as one of the most corrupt members of Congress. Though he has managed to win election three times because he has proven himself to be a master of negative advertising, Renzi has apparently used his tenure in Congress to enrich himself, his family and his associates from the Federal till. Even Republicans here acknowlege that he is dishonest and corrupt, but he's managed to still win only by smearing his opponents.

Last year Republicans took, as President Bush said, 'a thumping' at the polls, and election day polls showed that voters were punishing them for two main reasons-- 1. Iraq, and 2. GOP Congressional scandals.

Well, they seem to want a repeat of that in 2008, since the House Republicans for the most part are still backing the President on Iraq, and with accidents like Rick Renzi (and California Congressman John Doolittle) waiting to happen it looks like 2008 may turn into another scandal-plagued year for the GOP.

The best thing that Rick Renzi could do for his party, his constituents and the institution of Congress would be to resign, effective immediately.

UPDATE: Tedski at Rum, Romanism and Rebellion says he has information that Renzi may resign by Friday.

Also, in addition to Renzi, we see (credit to HB over at CH Truth) that the Carpet Bagger Report has provided us with a nice summary:

* FBI agents raided Rep. John Doolittle’s (R-Calif.) home, forcing him to step down from his seat on the House Appropriations Committee.

* FBI officials have been leaning on Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) for additional information about his connections with Jack Abramoff.

* Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) is facing a Senate Ethics Committee inquiry, stemming from his efforts to push a federal prosecutor to bring a baseless charge against Democratic state officials in his home state.

* The FBI is investigating Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) for a series of land deals.

* A former aide to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has pleaded guilty to accepting illegal gifts from Abramoff.

* The Justice Department investigation into former Rep. (and current Nevada governor) Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.) has intensified.


Indy Voter said...

Let's say Renzi does resign, Eli. What's your early thoughts on a special election? Who are likely candidates from each party, for instance? Also, does one party have a real electoral advantage electorally in the district, especially considering that a Renzi resignation would hurt any Republican candidate to some extent?

Eli Blake said...


I'd recommend checking on Tedski at Rum, Romanism and Rebellion inasfar as he is keeping pretty good track of who the rumored candidates are likely to be.

I'd expect that Ann Kirkpatrick would be the most likely candidate (and the strongest) for the Democrats. She was contemplating running against Renzi in 2008 even before the latest happenings. She also has deep ties to the Native American community, and has proven that she can win election to the state house of representatives in a district that is 3/4 Navajo.

On the Republican side I can't imagine Ken Bennett not getting their nomination if he wants it. His plus is that he is rich enough to finance a run on his own. His minus is his leadership of the state Senate-- in the end, very little got done on his watch and what did get done in many cases got done because the Governor fashioned a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans who went around Bennett and left him looking like the kid that got locked out of the prom. Bennett could also be vulnerable to fallout from the situation involving his son, particularly if questions are raised (as they were then) about whether he had anything to do with influencing prosecutors to not go after the younger Bennett with more gusto. To be honest, that might be a cheap shot, but politics is politics and the opening is there-- and Rick Renzi certainly set the standard with taking cheap shots.

The district has an 8% Democratic registration edge, but a lot of the Democrats are 'pinto Democrats' who lately have voted GOP for federal and statewide office (though they supported Governor Napolitano last year and don't care for the GOP position on Iraq any more than other people do). The Republican bases of the district have traditionally been in Prescott (where Bennett is from), Payson and in LDS dominated areas of eastern Arizona, especially Graham county. The Democratic bases have been Flagstaff (where Kirkpatrick is from), Globe and the reservations.

The wildcard is likely to be the reservation. Renzi is popular among the Native Americans, having gotten Congress to spend a ton of pork up there. I doubt if his popularity would be transferable though, especially since Kirkpatrick presently represents the same area in the legislature and Bennett's record when he was the President of the state Senate wasn't particularly friendly towards Native Americans. The real thing that decides the contest could be turnout. I might add that if the special election were held in the summer it would likely favor Democrats since a lot of people tend to leave (GOP leaning) towns like Safford and Casa Grande during the summer because it's just too darn hot; People tend to stay put more in the summer in Flagstaff and on the reservations. A special election after Labor Day would probably be more in the interest of Republicans.

drewa said...

Well, I do live within the boundaries of District 1, I would like to say that I would prefer State Rep. Bill Koponicki of Safford. He would easily beat any Democrat. If you werent aware, there is high number of Independents in the District, like me, we would prefer Rep. Kononicki.

Anonymous said...

The real Democratic contender is going to be Steve Owens. He's the highest profile member of Napolitano's cabinet. He knows and has ties throughout the district. He was Al Gore's former chief of staff, which means "money", he's the former Dem Party chair. You can't really find a more solid candidate than Owens.