US congressman under federal scrutiny runs low on campaign cash and heavily in debt
JENNIFER TALHELM Associated Press Writer
(AP) - WASHINGTON-The predicament of a Republican member of Congress, who is dogged by legal problems and running low on campaign cash, is giving Democrats hope that they can take over his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in November's elections.
Rep. Rick Renzi, whose family business was raided by the FBI last April, ended the last quarter with $20,418 (â‚¬14,816) in the bank, according to campaign finance reports covering April 1-June 30. That is just one-quarter of the $80,000 (â‚¬58,050) he had on hand at the end of the first three months of the year.
He raised $41,664 (â‚¬30,233) during the quarter, a fraction of the $300,000 (â‚¬217,691) he raised during the corresponding period in the last election cycle.
The report, filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission, showed Renzi has spent $126,388 (â‚¬91,711.78) and owes $456,024 (â‚¬330,907.77).
Renzi's office did not immediately respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment Monday.
Of the half-dozen Republican House members under some form of federal scrutiny, party leaders are most worried about allegations concerning Renzi and Rep. John Doolittle, their colleagues say.
Doolittle, left the powerful House Appropriations Committee in April after FBI agents raided his Washington-area home. His wife, Julie, ran a business from the home in which she received commissions as a paid fundraiser for her husband's campaigns. Her clients included now-jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Doolittle's fundraising also has slowed. The nine-term conservative reported raising $100,183 (â‚¬72,696) from April 1 through June 30, $50,000 (â‚¬36,282) less than in the same period during the last election cycle. He had legal fees of $30,000 (â‚¬21,769) regarding the Abramoff investigation, ending the quarter with $74,383 (â‚¬53,975) cash on hand and debts of $106,633 (â‚¬77,377).
Doolittle narrowly beat Democrat Charlie Brown last year, and Brown, who wants a rematch, is far ahead in the money race. Brown raised $193,238 (â‚¬140,221) from April 1-June 30, ending with $268,574 (â‚¬194,887) cash on hand and debts of just about $17,000 (â‚¬12,336). Doolittle says he intends to run for re-election.
Renzi has been shadowed by ethical questions for several years but held onto his seat. They came to a head in mid-April when federal officials, investigating a multimillion-dollar land deal that benefited a Renzi associate, raided a Sonoita, Arizona, insurance business owned by Renzi's wife, Roberta.
The status of the investigation is unclear. In past statements, Renzi has denied all wrongdoing.
On the day of the raid, he stepped down temporarily from the House Intelligence Committee. A few days later, he took a leave of absence from the House Financial Services and Natural Resources committees.
Since then, several Democrats, including state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, have expressed interest in running for his seat in 2008.
While Renzi has insisted that he is not resigning his House seat, it is unclear whether he will seek re-election.
Associated Press Writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.