Pressure Mounts on Renzi to Resign

By Justin Rood

Feb 22, 2008 3:37pm

Republicans in Congress are impatiently tapping their fingers, as hours slip by without a resignation announcement from Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., who was indicted this morning on federal charges.

Federal prosecutors Friday morning dropped a 35-count indictment on Renzi, alleging money laundering, extortion, fraud and conspiracy.  But by 3:30 p.m. Renzi’s office had not made or scheduled any announcement, and would not respond to inquiries about whether the lawmaker was going to remain in office.

In a statement released to the media this afternoon, House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, made his impatience known.

"I have made it clear that I will hold our Members to the highest standards of ethical conduct," Boehner said. "The charges contained in this indictment are completely unacceptable for a Member of Congress, and I strongly urge Rep. Renzi to seriously consider whether her can continue to effectively represent his constituents under these circumstances."

Responding to an emailed question about whether Renzi will step down, Renzi’s press office replied that inquiries "regarding legal matters" were being handled by Renzi’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten. Weingarten did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last April, following reports that the FBI had raided a business belonging to his wife, the lawmaker stepped down from his committee assignments. At the time, he told reporters he was "looking at" the prospect of resigning.  He since announced he would not seek re-election.

Update: Boehner’s sentiments were echoed — with mixed metaphor — by Howard Shanker, an Arizona Democrat running for Renzi’s open seat in the fall. "It is. . . time for Mr. Renzi to pass the mantle of leadership and justice to a stronger and more capable arm," Shanker said in a statement. (A mantle is typically worn on the shoulders.)

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