A crooked Republican? The hell you say!

Congressman Rick Renzi (R-AZ) has been using his office to do some serious nest-feathering, or so says the U.S. Justice Department. A federal grand jury has returned a 35-count indictment (pdf, 26 pages) against Renzi and two of his compadres alleging: (1) Renzi embezzled $400,000 in customers’ premiums from an insurance agency he owned and diverted the cash to his congressional campaigns; (2) Renzi, taking advantage of his seat on the House Natural Resources Committee, strong-armed a copper mining company into purchasing land from one of Renzi’s buddies in exchange for Renzi’s support legislation that would transfer certain lucrative property rights to the mining company; and (3) a host of other untoward shenanigans.

Renzi’s lawyers are beside themselves with righteous indignation, wondering aloud how the Justice Department could be so callous as deny their client — whose father’s funeral took place yesterday — “a decent amount of time . . . to mourn the passing of his father[.]” Counsel also insists that their client is innocent and that the prosecution is politically motivated.

This has been in the works for some time. Federal agents raided the above-referenced insurance agency (ownership of which Renzi transferred to his wife in 2004) almost a year ago. Back then Renzi resigned his committee appointments and announced that he wouldn’t run for reelection when his current term ends in early 2009.

That’s no longer good enough for the GOP leadership,  who can’t seem to push Renzi under the proverbial bus far enough or fast enough. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is pretty much ordering Renzi to leave right the fuck now:

“The charges contained in this indictment are completely unacceptable for a Member of Congress, and I strongly urge Rep. Renzi to seriously consider whether he can continue to effectively represent his constituents under these circumstances,” a statement from Boehner’s office, released Friday afternoon, said. “I expect to meet with Rep. Renzi at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss this situation and the best option for his constituents, our Conference, and the American people.”

A sordid story, to be sure, but at least it doesn’t involve rape, bestiality, pedophilia or diaper fetishism (so far as the indictment reveals). Old fashioned, down home, country style thievery is something of a step up for the contemporary edition of the Family Values Party.

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