Christopher Fox GrahamTo the honorable Richard Renzi, United States House of Representatives,
You’re facing 35 counts of criminal activity, your fellow representatives dodge you in the halls of Congress and since you’ve left all your committees, you aren’t really helping your constituents in Arizona.
Christopher Fox Graham.
On Feb. 21, a federal district court in Tucson filed a 35-count, 26-page indictment against Renzi — who technically represents Arizona’s First Congressional District.
While Renzi is innocent until proven guilty, in politics, guilt isn’t the issue — effectiveness is.
As glimmers of impropriety grew into friendly visits from FBI agents to a novella by a grand jury, Renzi left the House Intelligence Committee, the House Financial Services Committee and House Natural Resources Committee — he has been effectively ostracized from decision-making on Capitol Hill.
Laws aren’t decided on the House floor, they’re decided in committee. Voting on bills is something any appointee can do. Right now, Renzi’s collecting a big paycheck for only a few hours of work a month.
In fact, forward Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano my phone number; my weekends are free.
Miraculously, Renzi topped both the charges and page count filed in 2005 against Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham [R-Calif.], considered by many as the most corrupt member of Congress in recent memory.
Duke, step aside and clear the pedestal for Rick.
While the nation stood aghast at the corruption charges filed against a sitting three-term member of Congress, national news agencies turned to Arizona for a response and found that most voters in Northern Arizona sighed and asked, “Oh really? We knew that.”
A congressman who could be Joey Buttafuoco’s twin brother was indicted? You don’t say.
It’s no secret that Renzi hasn’t represented Northern Arizona well. He’s rarely in Arizona, if at all, except for brief tours during election season and fair-weather visits.
Think of the grandkids who only visit grandparents long enough to remind them that they need a paragraph in the will – that’s our congressman.
His staffers show up to events and apologize for his absence, much the same way our parents continue to tell us there’s a Santa Claus.
We believe some fictions because they’re pretty.
Chances are, it’s because he can’t find the Verde Valley on the map — if his staffers want to tell him, we’re south of Flagstaff and north of Phoenix … just find us on GoogleEarth.
I remember getting a call from his office to request a copy of a newspaper after a former editor wrote a particularly scathing editorial.
Granted, we’re not a huge newspaper, but you’d figure a congressman with a net worth of $5 million could afford the out-of-state subscription of $65 per year from a newspaper serving 10,000 of his constituents – we’re cheaper than a set of American flag cufflinks.
According to an Associated Press news story in 2002, Renzi has lived in Arizona only seven of the past 20 years. Imagine electing a Sedona City Council member who lived here only four-and-a-half months a year. Renzi is essentially a Virginia resident with a vacation home in Flagstaff — and all 12 of his kids went to school in Virginia.
In 2001, Renzi started his first run for Congress, using what federal investigators are now claiming were illegal funds.
He also boldly claimed that he had authored key legislation for Sen. Jon Kyl [R-Ariz.] and former Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe, then of Arizona’s District 5.
In an Associated Press article by Scott Thomsen in August 2002, both Kyl and Kolbe denied that Renzi was anything more than an unpaid intern, making his closest interaction with pending legislation the act of pressing the “copy” button on the Xerox machine.
Renzi won that first election by vastly outspending his opponent, George Cordova, and paying for attack ads that Cordova simply didn’t have the funds to fight.
All of his campaigns have been equally brutal to his pocketbook and yet he has stayed in office.
Since moving to Washington, D.C., — or going back home — Renzi has been implicated in the firing of U.S. attorneys, an action, which, added to perjury, brought down U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in September.
The FBI come knocking on the door of his family’s business in April 2007 and the indictment was handed down last month.
“Let the chips fall where they may if I’m a carpetbagger,” Renzi was quoted saying in the 2002 Associated Press article.
The chips have finally fallen, congressman. Go home.
Deciphering Sedona is published every other Wednesday in the Sedona Red Rock News. To comment, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.