Monday, April 23, 2007

Rick Renzi is merely a symptom

Doesn't look like a lot of my conservative colleagues are saying much, so I'll bite.

If he is guilty, pack him up and send him to Hell.

Keep in mind however, that an investigation is not an indictment, and an indictment is not a conviction. It is possible that the details as revealed are not the entire story. It could be that further investigation could exonerate Mr. Renzi.

And were that to happen I'd still be ticked.

From the Wall street Journal article

The Renzi case is the latest in a wave of public-corruption investigations of local and federal officials. At least five members of Congress -- three Republicans and two Democrats -- are now under federal criminal scrutiny. Two former members, both Republicans, have gone to prison in the past year. Voter polls have suggested that the investigations were one reason Republicans lost control of Congress last November.

The Renzi case spotlights the potential for abuse in the murky world of legislated land swaps, which have become more common in recent years. Thousands of acres of public land worth hundreds of millions of dollars change hands each year through narrow special-interest bills. There is little public scrutiny, and often no vote is recorded in Congress. Some swaps serve public goals, such as protecting wild habitat. Others enrich private interests at taxpayers' expense, sometimes sidestepping federal rules in the process.

Where does Congress get the right to mess with federal lands without any real type of public oversight or accountability? Public lands are a finite resource, and any giveaway or "swap" should be a huge deal, not something handled by a contact to a single representative or senator.

Oh, and by Senator I mean Harry Reid.

In fact, Reid seems to have a problem with Real Estate in general.

I do not bring this up to say, "See, Democrats do it too!" but to show how common this type of thing is. The secrecy and the back scratching need to be eliminated, and any land swap be made entirely transparent and pass over a lot more legislative officials. It is one of the most pernicious types of earmarks, especially as, more often than not, it enriches the officeholder personally. This should not be a partisan issue at all. And any who stand in the way of reform in this area should be mowed into electoral compost whether they be Democrat or Republican.

And with these types of land deals in particular, there should be established law, not just ethical guidelines, that are at least as onerous as the Sarbanes-Oxley act, which sounds like a great idea until you actually run into it in your day-to-day life. If you pull a Reid and forget to cross a "T" with that act, there is little forgiveness and enhanced jail sentences. Congress should be held to just as high a standard if not more stringent.

Rather than trying to track down payments and the like, the simple existence of an undisclosed conflict of interest should be enough to ride you out of Washington on a rail.

If we want to clean up Washington, Congress needs to operate under the rules they require of business.

And Mr. Renzi, even if you are innocent of these particular charges, you don't look to be part of any solution, so it doesn't appear to be worth my time to defend you.


Anonymous said...

It's about time a Republican had the guts to openly discuss this. This is the main reason Republicans were destroyed in the last election, but the leadership in D.C. still kid themselves into believing it was something else. They can't keep pointing like little children to corrupt Democrats thinking that will somehow mitigate their own problemss. Voters are tired of the childishness and utter contempt shown for the electorate and communicated that at the polls.

Anonymous said...

In a very strange irony, Rick has done more for Ft. Huachuca than Congresswoman Giffords. By stopping the water use of that farm, the largest single agricultural user of the San Pedro, it is a step forward for the Fort. By contrast, CD8 Representative Giffords has shipped out 200 soldiers to other bases. His action, at the intent of it, was to help the base and the San Pedro.

What about Petrified Forest Group, who knowingly overpaid for the parcel for a quid pro quo? Apparently the $4M was worth it for the land they were going to get since they parted with the money.

The fact remains that it's a good thing to shut that farm down from the perspective of the Fort and Cochise County and the river. The piece of land did matter.

What about the ArtFair deal Councilwoman Trasoff tried to slide by the City Council. Where was the economic payoff for anyone other than ArtFair in that?

Will be interested in hearing ALL the facts on the Renzi deal, so far we've only heard one side. Obviously the disclosure of the $200K payment to Renzi is the crux of the ethical argument. That piece of land was important to the base.