Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rick Renzi and ethics-- an oxymoron when mentioned in the same line.

Hat tip to Arizona Congress Watch.

I've talked quite a bit about my ethically challenged Congresscritter, 'Richmond Rickey,' Rick Renzi.

It was Renzi who, while living in Virgina (where he had resided for many years) heard that there would be a northern Arizona rural congressional district, and despite not having lived in the area at all except for the time when he attended NAU as an undergrad in the early 1980's, decided that he should be the next Congressman. So Renzi bought a house in Kingman. Then when it was announced that Mohave county would not be in the new district, the residence in Kingman went on the market the next day and he bought another house, in the district. Of course his 'home' is much more like a campaign headquarters, as Renzi continues to reside with his wife and children in the same Burke, Virginia home as he has lived for the past decade.

Then, Renzi won both the primary and the general election by pouring in a ton of money-- over $4 million in 2002. Not long after that, the Federal Elections Commission investigated Renzi and concluded that the money was raised and spent illegally. His 2002 opponent, George Cordova, also filed a lawsuit against Renzi because of campaign ads that charged that Cordova had embezzled funds from a company he owned and wired them to his uncle in Mexico. Of course if that were true, then Cordova would have committed several felonies and would be in prison. It was not true at all (but what a neat trick to play the race card and let people know that Cordova had an uncle in Mexico), and Renzi settled the suit out of court for an undisclosed sum of money (not that finding money has ever been a problem for Rick.) All of this landed Renzi on the list of the thirteen most corrupt Congressmen, where he joins such luminaries as Duke Cunningham, William Jefferson and Bob Ney.

Renzi has also, while in his official position, helped steer hundreds of millions in federal contracts to the business of his father, a defense contractor. This is not illegal, but generally congressmen step aside when such conflicts come up and let other congressmen handle the situation. But not Renzi, he has no bones about making sure that his family is handed the big dollars.

So today, a new Renzi scandal broke. Harper's released an article entitled, The Patty Roe story: the interesting ethics of Congressman Rick Renzi.

It is about a woman named Patty Roe who (in apparent violation of Congressional rules designed to prevent conflicts of interest) works for Rick Renzi in his office while simultaneously doing fundraising for the Congressman (and a few of his colleagues). According to the article, she will make $60,000 on top of her office salary.

The funniest part of it is where a Renzi spokesman says,

“Whatever fundraising she does, is on her time.”

Yeah, Right. Just what I would do with my spare time, raise money for my boss. But then again, Rick Renzi has made a habit of getting away with outrageous violations of ethics, so by now it's just par for the course.


Anonymous said...

It's funny you should write about Renzi. I was talking to someone about him at work yesterday. I think the general consensus is that he needs to go. Problem is, most people vote along party lines, and since his district is predominantly Republican, well...

I predict an easy win come November.

Anonymous said...

"most people vote along party lines, and since his district is predominantly Republican, well..."

You might want to check your facts before you make statements like that. The fact is this is a Democratic district.

Democrats have a voter registration advantage here. Greenlee, Graham, and Gila are historically Democratic counties, as are Apache and Coconino. The only place Republicans really have an advantage is in Yavapai.

I don't think it's going to be so easy for Renzi, especially with a fighter like Ellen Simon coming out swinging after the primary.

Jane Arizona said...

A source inside told me today that of the 14 fundraising emails he's gotten from Roe, 13 were sent after 11pm and one was sent around 6 am.

But that doesn't mean much... one could do all the work during "business" hours and simply pull the trigger when it's considered safe.

Anonymous said...

A couple more-or-less on-topic questions, Eli.

(1) I know you were for Cappicioli in the primary but plan to vote for Cohen now that she's the Democratic nominee. How active do you think you'll be on her behalf?

(2) What kind of buzz is there in the district over the issues you've raised here? Are people who aren't dedicated Democrats getting expressing disgust with Renzi over these issues, or are they essentially shrugging their shoulders and getting on with their daily lives?

Eli Blake said...


Simon you mean?

Anyway, I support her against Renzi, though as a supporter of most of our Democratic candidates, I will probably focus the most in terms of my own effort on the races that look to be the most competitive.

Right now that includes the Senate race-- yeah, Kyl has been ahead in the polls but not unreachably ahead, and a lot of his support is of the 'soft' variety, since he's now been in Washington for decades (12 years in the Senate, preceded by eight in Congress and several years as a Congressional staffer before that, plus his dad was a Congressman so he grew up in Washington) and he really doesn't have much to show for all that time up there except for a long list of campaign donors and expensive vacations. So most voters here agree that Kyl has been part of the problem, the trick is convincing them that Pederson could be part of the solution.