Renzi Claims Agents Tapped GOP Calls
Attorneys for Rep. Rick Renzi, the Arizona Republican on trial for money laundering and corruption charges, say that federal agents bugged Renzi's phone lines, improperly picking up calls between GOP congressional leaders after the 2006 mid-term elections.
Documents filed this week in federal court claim that the FBI recorded hundreds of phone calls between Renzi and his aides and 16 phone calls between Renzi and other members of Congress.
"Inexplicably, the government also transcribed telephone calls between Congressman Renzi and other Members of Congress that appear to have nothing to do with this case," including calls between Renzi and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), court documents filed by Renzi's attorneys allege.
"In many of these conversations, Members discuss who they plan on voting for in upcoming elections to fill House Republican leadership positions, which determine the legislative priorities for the new Congress," the court document states.
A copy of the federal court filing by Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), claiming that the FBI secretly recorded phone calls between the lawmaker and other members of Congress
Renzi's attorneys also say that a Nov. 8, 2006, post-election conference call among members of the House Republican Conference was also recorded, as well as privileged phone calls between Renzi and his attorneys.
Renzi filed several motions this week questioning the legality of several federal wiretaps and asking a judge to dismiss some of the charges against him.
The Hill first reported the existence of the recorded phone calls in April and published new information about Renzi's claims today.
Renzi first came under suspicion two years ago when the FBI began looking into whether Renzi twice pressured landowners to buy a 480-acre piece of land owned by his former business partner, who was also a major backer of Renzi's political campaign.
The deal resulted in a $3 million profit for Renzi's business partner, James Sandlin.
Renzi's wife's business was later searched by the FBI and he announced he would temporarily step down from the House intelligence committee, which oversees the FBI.
By August 2007, Renzi announced he would not seek re-election. He was charged in February with two co-defendants in a 35-count indictment, which included counts of money laundering, wire fraud and extortion, in connection with the land-swap scheme, and allegations he embezzled $400,000 from his own insurance company to pay for his first congressional campaign.
After the charges were announced, Renzi said he would not resign and "take on the cloak of guilt because I am innocent."
In March, he pleaded not guilty.
By Derek Kravitz |
October 17, 2008; 1:32 PM ET
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