The Justice Department on Friday indicted Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) on 35 counts of extortion, money laundering and conspiracy relating to Renzi’s efforts to get the federal government to buy land from his business partner.
The charges center on a 2005 mining deal in which Renzi allegedly required private mining companies to buy land from James Sandlin in exchange for Renzi’s support of legislation allowing the government to swap land with the companies for the purposes of establishing a copper mine.
Sandlin was a business partner and campaign contributor who had bought out Renzi’s real estate business, and he still owed Renzi about $700,000, according to the indictment. After the sale of the land, Sandlin used the proceeds to pay Renzi $733,000, but the two men hid that transaction by funneling the payment through other companies, the Justice Department alleges.
The indictment also alleges that Renzi funneled money from his family’s insurance company into his campaign. Renzi will be arraigned March 6. His office did not immediately return a request for comment.
— Paul Singer