Well boys and girls, it’s that time again. Misinformed Capitol Hill Scandal Time.
Several months ago, NAICA staff was discussing how to further expand and challenge our modes of coverage when we decided we should get some Congressional politicians to talk to us. Native American politicians of course. Of the three or so we have to choose from in the constituency, we chose Rep. Rick Renzi, of Arizona. This is because one of us heard him in an interview with Terri Gross and figured he’d be down.
Representative Renzi was contacted and contacted yet again, but to no avail. Maybe he was just busy? I mean, who wouldn’t want to talk to NAICA, right?
Yea, he must have been busy. Or under investigation.
According to the Phoenix Business Journal, Renzi “could soon step down in the wake of a federal investigation into his involvement in a federal land swap deal and FBI raids of an insurance agency owned by his wife.”
An Indian involved in a land swap deal??? C’est scandleaux!!!
More from CBS News, “Law enforcement officials confirmed in October that they were scrutinizing a land deal that benefited a Renzi friend and business associate who was also a campaign donor. According to state records and officials involved in the land deal, Renzi helped promote the sale of land that netted his former business partner, James Sandlin, $4.5 million.
The property eventually was to be part of a swap in which potential buyers could exchange it for land owned by the federal government. Such deals are common in the West, where the government owns vast tracts. Renzi had said he wanted to prevent encroaching development near the Fort Huachuca Army post and to protect the environmentally threatened San Pedro River.”
Hmmm, so Renzi, Congressman and Co-Chair of the Native American Caucus, was arranging to regain vast tracts of land owned by the government for “conservation” reasons? Can’t really blame him for that, right? And it would be an easy explanation, but unfortunately (or fortunately?) this muddled controversy does not stop there.
Renzi and his Chief of Staff are also under investigation for allegedly being party to le scandal du jour: the US attorney firings. In October 2006, Renzi learned that he was being investigated for the land-swap deal, among other things. The district attorney conducting the investigation was relieved of his duties a few months later.
The irony of this sweeping investigation continues, as apparently Renzi’s earlier campaign for office received funds from none other than Jack Abramoff, the best Indian arm-twister east of the Mississippi.
So what exactly does this all mean? NAICA has nary a clue. But when it was learned that Abramoff was linked, we just knew something was amiss.
Our (mis)interpretation: Renzi, one of three-ish token Indians in Congress received swindled money from other Native American tribes to further his campaign for office via a sell-your-soul deal with Little Jack Abramoff. Upon obtaining the coveted position (a congressional seat that chairs the largest amount of Native Americans in the country, including large portions of the Navajo nation) he furtively arranges to take back large government-owned tracts of land. (Perhaps to build more casinos for Abramoff to swindle money from?) He then foolishly and overtly fires the DA investigating his office’s actions. If none of this makes sense to you, we’ll assert one more confusing note to the mix: Renzi is a Republican.
What in the sam-hell is going on here?? At least with Abramoff, we knew what motivations belonged to who, and for which reasons. With Renzi, we are starting to think that he may suffer from a personality disorder or something.
“I am humbled to be elected co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus,” Renzi said in a statement after his appointment earlier this year. “During the last four years, I’ve been honored to represent thousands of Native Americans in the House of Representatives, and now I’m pleased to play an even greater role in improving the quality of life for many more First Americans throughout the country.”
The “best laid plans,” right?
One can’t help but feel sorry for this Honest-Abe-faced Congressman from Arizona. And maybe one can’t blame him for his seemingly confused decision-making process, as it must be hard to be a Republican and a Native American in a governmental role. Add some land deals, casino money and partisan agendas to the mix and you have a sure-fire formula for failure.
Stay tuned to NAICA for more misinformed updates on this ongoing investigation. We promise we will do our best to make this whole fiasco as confusing as possible.
(p.s. upon googling “Rick Renzi Native American” for an entire Saturday morning, NAICA has yet to determine which Indian nation he is actually affiliated with. Fishy, verrrry fishy.)