In the fall of 2006, one day after the Justice Department granted permission to a U.S. attorney to place a wiretap on a Republican congressman suspected of corruption, existence of the investigation was leaked to the press — not only compromising the sensitive criminal probe but tipping the lawmaker off to the wiretap.
Career federal law enforcement officials who worked directly on a probe of former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) said they believe that word of the investigation was leaked by senior Bush administration political appointees in the Justice Department in an improper and perhaps illegal effort to affect the outcome of an election.
At the time of the leak, Renzi was locked in a razor-thin bid for reelection and unconfirmed reports of a criminal probe could have become politically damaging. The leaked stories — appearing 10 days before the election — falsely suggested that the investigation of Renzi was in its initial stages and unlikely to lead to criminal charges.
In fact, the investigation had been ongoing for some time and had already amassed enough evidence of alleged criminal misconduct to obtain approval from the highest levels of the Justice Department, including then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, to seek an application from a federal judge to wiretap Renzi. In February 2008, a federal grand jury indicted Renzi on 36 felony counts of money laundering, extortion, insurance fraud and various other alleged crimes.
Renzi didn't run for re-election in 2008 when his blatant corruption finally lead to criminal charges. His trial has been delayed to September of this year. But he barely managed to retain his seat in 2006 by downplaying the investigation, even though his corruption was well known to anyone paying attention.
One of the reasons that I began this blog was to attempt to fight against Mr. Renzi, who represented my district. I dedicated pictures of tattoo'd pigs to him, and I'm only too happy to revive the tradition. There have been a lot of corrupt congress critters, but he was consistently among the worst. The entire Shrub administration acted as a crime syndicate, and Renzi was a typical rethug criminal who belongs in jail.
So have another pig, Mr. Renzi. I'm looking forward to the trial.