Thursday, October 08, 2009

Rick Renzi's Going To Spend A Lot Of Time In Prison-- But What About Jerry Lewis?


Last year, after months and months of bickering and posturing and half measures, the Republican House leadership finally forced serial criminal Rick Renzi (R-AZ)-- the R is for "racketeer"-- to retire from politics. He was replaced by a quasi-Democrat who votes with the GOP more frequently, at least on important substantive issues, than she votes with the Democrats. (Her ProgressivePunch score is a dismal 32.61.) Today the Justice Department announced that it has expanded its case against Renzi, adding 5 new corruption charges against the former key John McCain ally and campaign operative.
Prosecutors added insurance fraud and racketeering accusations in a second superseding indictment filed in late September. It is the second time the government has added charges to the original indictment, first filed in February 2008.

The government added a conspiracy to commit insurance fraud charge to the indictment. Explaining the charge, the government argued that Renzi, co-defendant Dwayne Lequire and others willfully embezzled funds and premiums from a risk retention company called Spirit Mountain to pay Renzi’s “substantial personal expenses.” Lequire helped conceal the embezzlement by transferring other funds into accounts of Renzi’s insurance company, Patriot Insurance, including proceeds from a line of credit and the real estate deal at the heart of the corruption case against him, the prosecutors allege.

Renzi is accused of telling executives for Resolution Copper Mining that he would not support a land swap bill unless they bought his former business partner’s property. Another company agreed to the deal, and Renzi pocketed more than $700,000 from it, according to the indictment.

The trial has been postponed while the judge deals with a barrage of Renzi motions to get the charges dismissed, to get evidence suppressed and to disqualify the prosecution team, etc. So far all of the obstructionist motions that have been ruled on have been denied. That got him to just file more. Meanwhile, the remnants of the most corrupt regime to have ever infested the nation's capital took a failed stab at forcing Charlie Rangel step down from his Ways and Means Committee chair. "To allow Mr. Rangel to continue to serve," says GOP hatchetman John Carter (R-TX), "as Chairman of the very committee with IRS oversight, without paying a nickel in penalties, and with no end in sight to his ethics investigation, sends a clear message to the American public that this government refuses to abide by the same laws they impose on the working people of this country."

It kind of makes you wonder what message the right-wing fringe loon Carter and his partisan cohorts thought was being sent to the American public while California Congressman Jerry Lewis was the head of the Appropriations Committee-- spending a million dollars a year fending off a halfhearted Bush Justice Dept. investigation while arranging for earmarks for every campaign donor he's ever had. And he's still up to his old tricks, just this week putting in for a $3 million earmark for Goldman Sachs, Pegasus Partners and Resource Capital Funds. In Lewis' case, Karl Rove was able to get rid of not one, but two-- Carol Lam and Debra Yang-- Justice Department attorneys sniffing around a little too close for comfort.

I don't doubt that Rangel has played fast and loose with rules governing ethical conduct-- and possibly criminal conduct; he is, after all, a politician. The Ethics Committee is investigating him, and I'll be interested in seeing what they come up with. Meanwhile, if Rangel set out to rip off the taxpayers of America and worked really hard at it, he might catch up with Rick Renzi before the next Republican wins the White House-- but he'll never catch up with Jerry Lewis.

Which brings us to a simple question: Why hasn't the new Administration staffed up the Justice Department? The answer, of course, is pure Republican obstructionism. They are simply holding up confirmations for months and months over their unrelated series of manufactured hissy fits. After senseless months of bottling up the nomination of Tom Perez to head the civil rights division, when it came to a vote yesterday Perez was confirmed 72-22, only the worst and most blatant obstructionists-- like Sam Brownback (KS), Miss McConnell (KY), Jeff Sessions (KKK), Jim DeMint (SC), John Ensign (NV), David Diapers Vitter (LA) and John Thune (SD)-- voting no. Confirm US Attorneys who will investigate criminal activities of members of Congress? I don't think so.

Coincidentally, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan was highlighting the obstructionist aspect of this problem today as well, pointing out Republicans' refusal to confirm Dawn Johnsen to her Justice Department post.
“For months now, Senate Republicans have been blocking the confirmation of President Obama's nominees to key positions in the federal government. Dawn Johnsen, the President's eminently qualified nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, has been waiting longer than almost anyone else–nearly eight months!
“But they can’t play politics with justice forever. People are getting fed up with the constant obstruction. The logjam will be broken soon, and it couldn’t happen quickly enough.
“Dawn Johnsen enjoys the support of former OLC heads from Republican and Democratic administrations. Republican Senator Richard Lugar, her home state Senator, has endorsed her. She served with distinction as acting head of OLC during the Clinton administration. Legal scholars and current and former colleagues have attested to her legal acumen and integrity.
“Simply put, Dawn Johnsen is anything but a controversial nominee. But she and other highly qualified nominees are being held hostage in a game of petty politics. Americans want the best possible people in charge of government, and it’s time for Senate Republican leaders to call off their blockade.”

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At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. Jerry Lewis was just named to the list of most corrupt congressmen by CREW for the fourth year.
Why doesn't the Democratic Party fund Tim Prince to challenge Jerry and get rid of him?


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