THE NATION: Another GOP congressman has been indicted. This time it’s Rick Renzi [pictured below right, during what looks like a War On Drugs photo-op], indicted by a federal grand jury in Arizona today on charges of wire fraud, money laundering and extortion as part of a multimillion dollar land deal that allegedly improperly benefited Renzi and his business partners. Renzi, who announced his retirement in August, also happens to be a close ally of Senator John McCain. Renzi is a co-chair of McCain’s campaign in Arizona. The Arizona Republic describes the two men as “close.” In June 2006, McCain sent out a fundraising letter on Renzi’s behalf. “Already his liberal opponents have started advertising on television against him and the Washington liberals have recruited a multi-millionaire from Ohio to challenge him in November,” McCain wrote in the e-mail. “Rick’s opponent, Ellen Simon, is the former president of the ACLU and has pledged to spend millions of her own dollars to defeat Rick. We simply cannot let this happen,” McCain said.
As far back as September 2005, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington listed Renzi as one of the “most corrupt” members of Congress. News of Renzi’s land scheme had been percolating for a long time before it finally became public in October 2006. “Many people had information on Rick Renzi and his corrupt practices in 2006, which is one reason I ran for Congress,” says Ellen Simon, a civil rights lawyer who was falsely accused by McCain and others of being president of the ACLU. “At the same time this information was known, John McCain was actively supporting Renzi in the race.” MORE
WASHINGTON POST: Broadcaster Lowell “Bud” Paxson yesterday contradicted statements from Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist before sending two controversial letters to the Federal Communications Commission on Paxson’s behalf. Paxson said he talked with McCain in his Washington office several weeks before the Arizona Republican wrote the letters in 1999 to the FCC urging a rapid decision on Paxson’s quest to acquire a Pittsburgh television station. Paxson also recalled that his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, likely attended the meeting in McCain’s office and that Iseman helped arrange the meeting. “Was Vicki there? Probably,” Paxson said in an interview with The Washington Post yesterday. “The woman was a professional. She was good. She could get us meetings.” MORE