In a statement issued Tuesday, Congressman Rick Renzi’s chief of staff acknowledged that he contacted then U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton just weeks before the November 2006 elections asking for details of an ongoing corruption investigation into Renzi’s real estate dealings. Tellingly, Mr. Charlton was fired a short time later and is one of the eight federal prosecutors summarily fired by the DOJ—a matter that is currently being investigated by Congress.
People For the American Way president Ralph G. Neas called on the White House to make public documents relating to the contact between Congressman Renzi’s office and the US Attorney Office. No such documents were released by the White House or the Justice Department among the thousands of pages of evidence pertaining to the firings of U.S. attorneys around the country.
Said Neas, “Again and again this administration has refused to be candid with the American people. We deserve all the facts about the US Attorney firing scandal, and we deserve them now. Congress has asked for all the documents relating to political interference with the fired attorneys. We need to know why nothing related to Rick Renzi has been released so far.”
Neas also called on Congress to investigate the possibility that Department of Justice officials held up the investigation of Renzi to help the Congressman win reelection in November. According to a story published in the Wall Street Journal, “investigators pursuing the Renzi case had been seeking clearance from senior Justice Department officials on search warrants, subpoenas and other legal tools for a year before the election.”
“It’s becoming more and more apparent that the Department of Justice has long been operating according to the political wishes of the White House such that even routine investigative warrants may have been delayed,” said Neas. “Congress needs to find out just how far this mindset extends and investigate whether or not political concerns held up the investigation of Mr. Renzi.”
People For the American Way has called for the resignation or removal of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.