Phoenix New Times: Deal Breaker.
Seems that Tricky Dickie Renzi has been a very bad boy. On top of news that Democrat Ellen Simon is beating him in the polls, The New Times has published a story that puts Renzi elbow deep in the shit.
I strongly suggest you read the whole story, but this is how a Congressman falls:
In 2002 Renzi sells half of his land development company, the only assets of which is undeveloped land, to business partner James Sandlin for $200K, which Renzi then plows into his campaign to jump into Congress. He wins. Once he's in office Sandlin buys out the remaining half of Renzi's business for between $1 and $5 million (disclosures aren't terribly accurate). This represents as much as a 2500% appreciation in the value of Renzi's business in just 6 months, if this transaction was at arms length.
In 2005, James Sandlin owns a piece of property on the San Pedro river which had some conservation value. On October 1, 2005 the Sierra Vista Herald ran a story quoting Dick Renzi saying he was going to introduce legislation to swap Sandlin's land for a tract of federal land outside of Florence that Don Diamond was coveting.
On October 7th Sandlin sold his land on the San Pedro to an investment consortium for $4.5 million. Immediately thereafter, Renzi backed out of sponsoring the legislation when a lobbyist complained of his preferential treatment of Sandlin. This is known as pulling your hand out of the cookie jar and hiding it behind your back when Mom walks in unexpectedly.
The consortium which purchased the land put it back on the market for a much lower price, even offering it back to Sandlin, who no longer wanted it. Sandlin walks with $4.5 million. Renzi says he didn't want to create the appearance of impropriety. Too late, bub.
The point: Sandlin's land on the San Pedro wasn't worth nearly what he got for it. Renzi's announced intention to push the swap allowed Sandlin to sell at an inflated price. This is seen as pay-back for Sandlin's earlier questionable business deal with Renzi that paid for Renzi's election and put at least a million in Renzi's pocket. Once Renzi's 'appearance of impropriety' was noticed, he backed out, leaving the investors who bought from Sandlin in expectation of a federal swap holding the (now empty) bag, and Sandlin several million dollars richer.
Needless to say, Ellen Simon is all over this. She's sent out several press releases about how sleazy this is. And she dead right. Dick has developed a well-deserved reputation as one of the most corrupt bastards in a barrel-full of corrupt bastards. It's time Renzi find another career more suited to his ethical sensibility: I hear hedge funds are a great place to steal big these days...