Thirty-five counts won’t keep Rick Renzi down.
The Arizona congressman will not step down in the face of a federal indictment handed down last Friday, he announced in a press release late Monday evening. Prosecutors charged him with money laundering, extortion, fraud and conspiracy stemming from deals involving government land.
"I will not resign and take on the cloak of guilt because I am innocent," the statement read. "My legal team. . .will handle these legal issues while I continue to serve my constituents."
Renzi is one of two congressmen serving while under indictment. Federal prosecutors indicted Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., last June, and he’s still around. He may even try to get re-elected, even as he fights accusations he took half a million dollars in bribes.
The move likely won’t be embraced by his party’s leadership. House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio said last Friday that Renzi should “seriously consider” whether he could still do his job in the wake of the indictment. "I expect to meet with Rep. Renzi at the earliest possible opportunity," Boehner said.
A spokesman for Boehner declined to comment publicly on Renzi’s statement Monday evening. "We’re going to schedule a face-to-face meeting."