Pro-Life Groups Hit by GOP Lawmaker's Alleged Fraud

Renzi's alleged fraud netted thousands from pro-life groups, documents show.

ByABC News
March 7, 2008, 12:30 PM

March 8, 2007— -- Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., allegedly defrauded dozens of pro-life organizations for hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his first congressional bid, according to an analysis of the recent indictment against him, a state insurance claim and an interview with an insurance lawyer involved in the case.

When federal prosecutors indicted Renzi, 49, on 35 felony counts two weeks ago, many reports focused on alleged crimes stemming from a complicated series of land swaps the congressman facilitated.

But the indictment also accuses Renzi, who ran an insurance firm before coming to Capitol Hill, of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance premiums and using the money to fund his congressional campaign.

Organizations such as Arizona Right-to-Life, the Hope Crisis Pregnancy Center and the Wickenburg Pregnancy Resource Center paid insurance premiums to Renzi's insurance firm, Renzi & Company, but received notices their insurance coverage was going to be cancelled for nonpayment, according to a 2003 complaint filed with the State of Arizona. The complaint was first reported by the Phoenix New Times.

According to the indictment, Renzi funneled those payments -- totaling more than $400,000 -- through various accounts and finally to his campaign.

Renzi's congressional office has directed all legal questions to his lawyer, Reid Weingarten. Weingarten did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Renzi says he is innocent.