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Former Congressman Renzi Deserves a New Trial

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

In an incredible new development in the criminal case of imprisoned former Congressman Richard Renzi, Federal District Court Judge David Bury has agreed to hold an evidentiary hearing on October 26th in Tucson to look into FBI corruption and consider Renzi’s motion for a new trial. This comes due to new information that emerged after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal earlier this year. Renzi’s new-trial motion reveals a significant and appalling pattern of misconduct by the FBI during both the investigation and prosecution of his case.


Renzi was targeted by Democrats within the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the mid-2000s, including former U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton, a Republican who consistently sides with Democrats, even endorsing them. They saw Renzi as a serious threat — a potential contender for president someday — due to his charisma and ability to get elected in a Democratic-leaning district. He became one of the top Republican targets in the country. President Bush fired Charlton in 2006, but by then it was too late, he had already smeared Renzi so much, with the help of the complicit local left-leaning media, that it was difficult to turn things around.

Now, a key witness against Renzi has admitted that the FBI secretly led him to believe that he would be paid for helping to convict Renzi, which is illegal. The government not only concealed that information during Renzi's trial, but prosecutors dishonestly told the jury that the witness had no financial interest in the outcome of Renzi's case.

The FBI initiated the case against Renzi at the request of the Resolution Copper Company (RCC), a foreign-owned mining company that sought federal lands in order to access a massive copper deposit. Renzi opposed the mine because the RCC refused to accept input from others in the Arizona delegation, and because the San Carlos Apache vehemently opposed the development. Renzi’s district had one of the highest percentages of Native Americans in the country. So RCC back-channelled false information about Renzi to the lead FBI agent, Daniel Odom, as part of a sleazy but clever plan to prompt a criminal investigation in order to neutralize Renzi's opposition to the mine. RCC even went so far as to name their plan to remove Renzi from office "Operation Eagle," and according to sources that have not been verified yet, paid thousands of dollars to a former FBI agent and friend of Odom to adopt their false story.


The FBI shaped key witnesses' testimony to fit RCC’s narrative. Key witness Philip Aries, who was interested in purchasing some of the land in the proposed land swap, now admits the FBI led him to believe that he would receive money if he helped the government convict Renzi. Another key witness, Joanne Keene, who had suggested adding some land to the proposal, met with the government so often that she admitted that she felt like a part of the prosecution team.

The story the FBI helped Aries and Keene construct was false — and the FBI knew it. Yet the government let them both present this false testimony to jurors at the trial. It is even more atrocious that the FBI encouraged and enabled this false testimony by implying to witnesses that they would be paid for their stories.

This newly-revealed misconduct is not isolated; Odom has been caught in other misconduct, both in this case and in others. He knowingly and illegally monitored Renzi's attorney-client privileged phone calls, directed agents to destroy records demonstrating the FBI's use of these privileged calls, and lied to the court about what the government had done. He made false statements to the court in order to obtain a search warrant and provided false information on the status of wiretapping.


The court decried this misconduct as unconstitutional and chastised the government for breaching its duty of candor — yet the criminal trial against Renzi was permitted to proceed, resulting in a sentence of three years in prison.

Odom’s employment file contains other problematic information. Exactly what that information remains unknown, as the Court authorized the government to conceal it from Renzi. Renzi is attempting to get ahold of it, because if the agent has a pattern of misconduct, it goes to the heart of his credibility as a witness for the government.

The reason the corruption has gone on this long is because the case is so complicated the average American does not understand it. Federal “land swapping” sounds scary and vaguely unethical, but as I’ve written previously, Renzi complied with all laws and never even stood to make a profit, he was merely trying to work out an agreement between multiple parties that would have resulted in a favorable outcome for the government, a military base, an Indian tribe, and the private parties in the middle.

There are three large areas in society the left has controlled in our lifetime: the legal system, education and the media. Conservatives have made ground in recent years in media, thanks to talk radio, Fox News and the rise of the Internet, mainly due to social media and online news sites. But there is a long way to go yet with education and the legal system. The left is attracted to the legal profession, with Democrats becoming the vast majority of lawyers and judges, as well as controlling state bar associations. An incredible 81 percent of lawyers contribute to Democratic political candidates, whereas only 19 percent contribute to Republican candidates. Until the legal system is cleaned up, conservatives like Renzi will be prime targets, and not only find themselves sued and fined, but even imprisoned.


I’ve been writing about the left targeting conservatives through the legal system for several years now. But I’d never encountered anything so horrendous as actually putting someone in prison until I discovered Renzi’s situation. This represents a huge step well beyond just standard harassment of the right, and unless we’re willing to speak up and stop it now, it will just continue, resulting in few conservatives daring to run for office anymore. Renzi has a much longer and more impressive record of helping out others than I do, as much I try to do my part. If they take him out, they can take out anyone.

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