Waas on the Bush DOJ and Former Rep. Rick Renzi's Corruption Probe

Reporter Murray Waas has a long and meaty article today on the Bush Justice Department and alleged improprieties in the criminal investigation of corruption allegations against former AZ Republican congressman Rick Renzi.

The alleged impropriety: Leaking a wiretap on Renzi. The reason, according to Waas:

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.

Renzi, who did not seek re-election in 2008, ultimately was indicted on "36 felony counts of money laundering, extortion, insurance fraud and various other alleged crimes" and is scheduled for trial in September. [More...]

The federal grand jury indictment alleged that Renzi embezzled more than $400,000 from an insurance company he owned so that he could finance his first campaign for Congress.

Later, while a sitting member of Congress, the indictment said, Renzi allegedly engaged in the extortion of a mine owner who wanted federal legislation enacted to benefit his company. After the land deal was completed, more than $733,000 of the proceeds were then funneled to Renzi, the indictment charged. Renzi has denied any wrongdoing.

In addition to allegedly leaking the existence of the wiretap, Waas reports that the Bush administration falsely told the media the probe was in its early stage and not likely to result in charges, so that Renzi would have less difficulty getting re-elected.

What did leaking the wiretap do? According to Paul Charlton, the then-U.S. Attorney who headed up the Renzi probe:

“Any time you have a wiretap up and the subject or the target becomes aware that there is an investigation, the value of the information you glean from that wiretap will almost certainly be greatly diminished.”

This is another excellent reporting job by Murray Waas. I hope he continues to follow the Renzi case.

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    Wow. Law and Order (none / 0) (#1)
    by ruffian on Thu Jun 25, 2009 at 10:27:19 AM EST
    Republicans, at work again. I think the Bush Justice Department will keep Murray Waas stocked with material for years to come.