Yesterday, my congressman, Rick Renzi announced that he won't seek re-election in 2008 when his term expires. Renzi has been in the middle of a corruption investigation and the FBI raided his business earlier this year. Renzi announced that he won't seek re-election but he has refused to resign. This is unfair to voters in this district, as they no longer have a full time congressman. Renzi no longer goes to committee hearings (he is barred from them) and any legislation he puts up there has less chance of passing than if it was offered by a noncorrupt Congressmember.
I met Rick Renzi when he attended the Founder's Day barbecque in the small town I live in, in 2002 (when he was first running.) I can tell two stories that speak volumes about the man.
The first was when he was at the barbecque and he was going down the line shaking hands of people who were waiting in line for their term to be served. I have a friend whose wife is from Australia. He stuck out his hand and she told him that she was not an American and couldn't vote. So he just pulled his hand away without shaking hers. Couldn't even be bothered to say, 'pleased to meet you' and finish shaking her hand.
My own Rick Renzi story from that barbecque is this: I asked him whether he supports continuing to maintain a selective service registration data base. He said he did. I asked about his opinion on gays in the military (knowing that he wouldn't be for it.) He said he supported the current, 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. So then I pointed out that if both policies were in place and there were ever a draft, people who wanted to dodge it could claim they were gay. Renzi obviously was surprised, having not considered that before. He stammered around, and said 'the recruiter could tell.' I asked on what basis, and then mentioned that in a draft there is no recruiter, you just show up and if you pass the physical you're in. So then he suggested a polygraph. I answered that I finally got it, that these young men and young women would all show up for the draft, and the first thing we'd do is hook them up to a machine and ask them questions about their sex lives. Renzi turned purple. I didn't think that such an idiot could possibly be elected to Congress so I let him go.
What I didn't count on was 1. how much money he had (we now know, he had it because of the Sandlin land deal which is now among the matters under investigation); or 2. that he was a master of the personal smear. He overwhelmed George Cordova with a barrage of attacks (embezzlement, fraud, illegally wiring money out of the country) which, if true would have put Cordova behind bars for a long time. Of course Cordova never was charged with a crime because it was all a lie in the first place, in fact he subsequently pursued a civil court case against Renzi for slander and that was settled out of court but involved Renzi paying him money (not that at least at the time having mysterious amounts of money was any problem for Renzi.) Ironically, it is Renzi, not Cordova, who is now the subject of a Federal investigation. In subsequent campaigns against Paul Babbitt and Ellen Simon, Renzi also used smear tactics to win.
There is one problem with Renzi's announcement that he won't seek re-election. And that is still his refusal to resign. As a congressman-in-name-only the people here in this district don't have the same quality of representation as we should expect, especially with our 'Congressman' still drawing a $135,000 per year salary. He's done virtually nothing in the way of constituent service since the initial FBI raid of his family business back in April. As a citizen of CD 1, I demand that we have a legitimate representative who is carrying out all duties of a congressman, as soon as possible. If Mr. Renzi resigns, then constituent duties will be appointed to a neighboring conressperson, and a special election would be scheduled within a 75- to 90 day window.