A disgraced federal lawmaker who years ago appeared on Judicial Watch’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list is finally going to jail for abusing his public office to enrich himself and his cronies.
Former Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi was sentenced to three years in prison this week and must report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving his time on January 6. The shamed Republican actually got off easy because he faced decades behind bars for his multiple convictions. In June a federal jury found Renzi guilty of 17 felony offenses including extortion under the color of official right, racketeering, money laundering and lying to insurance regulators.
During his three terms in congress Renzi consistently introduced and voted for bills that benefited his father’s Virginia-based defense company, Mantech International, and in 2003 he sponsored legislation—that got signed into law—that dealt Mantech hundreds of millions of dollars. At the time Renzi’s father, a retired Army General, was the executive vice president of Mantech, which provided information technology services to a number of intelligence and defense-related government agencies. Coincidentally, executives of Mantech International were Renzi’s largest campaign contributors.
Renzi also used his influence on a House Natural Resources Committee to orchestrate a land swap with the federal government that financially benefited him and his associates to the tune of millions of dollars. The corrupt legislator was also charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients of his family insurance business to fund his congressional campaign.
The now infamous land deal took place in 2005. Renzi vigorously promoted a property sale near the Fort Huachuca Army post in southeastern Arizona as a swap in which potential buyers could exchange it for more valuable, federally-owned land. Instead, Renzi’s friend sold the 480 acres for a multi-million dollar profit and Renzi never introduced legislation to complete the swap for the new owners.
The federal prosecutor in charge of the case summed Renzi’s character best by pointing out that “he fleeced his own insurance company to fund his run for Congress and then exploited his position for personal gain.” Even among the abundant class of today’s corrupt politicians, Renzi’s scheme ranks quite high.