Governor Napolitano says Dick is depriving CD 1 voters of effective representation by not resigning • "Arizona Gov. Napolitano Urges Indicted Rep. Renzi to Resign"
The Tucson Citizen editorial staff agrees that Dick cannot effectively represent his constituents under these circumstances and should resign • "Indicted Renzi Should Resign"
- Ann Kirkpatrick, former state legislator and Democratic candidate for the 1st District U.S. House seat, says, "We, the people of this district, have witnessed firsthand the declining leadership and representation Renzi has provided over the past year and we cannot have another eight months pass without our voice being heard in Congress. It is time for Rep. Renzi to do what is right and to do what is in the best interest of this great district - resign and resign immediately."
- House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio called the charges against Renzi "completely unacceptable for a member of Congress," and said Renzi should "seriously consider whether he can continue to effectively represent his constituents under these circumstances."
- "Can he do his job now? I don't think so," said Jan Smith, Yavapai County Republican Party chair. "There's no way under the circumstances that anyone could concentrate on their job."
- One of the candidates running for Renzi's seat, Democrat Howard Shanker also said the congressman should leave office. "It is unfortunate that we can hold so little faith or trust in our elected representatives."
- Congressional Scholar and Historian at the American Enterprise Institute, Norman Ornstein says Dick's indictment "... is an equaling compelling indictment against a Congressional ethics process that once again proves its utter impotence." He goes on to urged Congress to reexaimne the idea of an independent ethics body (Note that Ornstein is too sanguine about Congresscritters' willingness to entertain such reforms, even now, as the bill was just pulled from the floor because it failed to get enough support):
"All of this is prelude to the critical choice facing the House this week. At long last (and I mean long--some of us have been working for nearly 30 years to create a meaningful reform here) the House is going to take up a plan to create an independent office for preliminary ethics investigations...
"The panel would consist of six members jointly appointed by the Speaker and Minority Leader, with staggered four-year terms (a limit of two for any members.) It has reasonable standards and thresholds for the group to consider potential ethical violations, with reports sent to the ethics committee laying out the facts of the group's investigation alongside the relevant rules and/or laws. There are reasonable time limits for the ethics committee to act on the report--and importantly, provisions that would eventually require release of the independent panel's report to the public if the ethics committee simply sat on the report."
The Hill is hedged in its headline, pointing out some possible weak points in the indictment. "The indictment does not detail when or if Renzi crafted that bill and a review of Renzi’s bills in 2005 and 2006 shows that no such measure was introduced." The article opines, "The Renzi case on allegations of quid pro quo legislative maneuvers is more nuanced than Ney’s and Cunningham’s cases where gifts and money were linked to congressional activities such as statements that were put in the Congressional Record and earmarks."
This is a sharp observation by The Hill, but very likely all the evidence the feds have has not been alleged or alluded in the indictment alone. There is likely a ton more evidence against Dick; especially very credible witness evidence, not to mention the likely testimony Dick's co-conspirators will cough up in exchange for a deal.
However, the absence of an introduced bill would be a major problem in proving at least some of the first 27 counts of the indictment. If The Hill's observation turned out to be true, it could be problematic for the prosecution. However, The Hill's concern is not an issue at all for Dick's earlier embezzlement of $400K to fund his 2002 campaign alleged in counts 28 - 35, which has nothing to do with his legislative actions.
I don't think The Hill did nearly enough diligence to conclude that the 'smoking bill' doesn't exist just because Renzi doesn't seem to have filed it; this sort of legislation gets lodged in omnibus bills all the time, and I'm sure Dick did his level best to keep his prints off it.
Although Dick's lawyers are currently only making implausible generic and blanket denials, Dick will eventually have to get much more specific and credible in order to justify his staying in office. This could be a huge problem for his defense.
It is never a good idea to lock yourself into a theory of defense before you know what evidence the prosecution has got and is likely to be able to present at trial. This is why high-profile cases are such a bear to defend: the public wants answers more compelling than merely telling them that the charges are baseless: the public isn't stupid.
They know that 35 count indictments don't get cooked up whole and that there is always some factual basis for such charges, even if the authorities may have misinterpreted events and acts that are perfectly legal - especially when the charges are against a man as powerful and well-connected as Dick, who has the power to defend himself vigorously and to do damage to careers and government departments should there have been any impropriety in bringing the indictment.
The voters will want to hear Dick's explanation of what looks quite damning, indeed. If he and his lawyers can't start to produce a narrative explaining why the charges are mistaken without tying Dick's hands in his eventual defense in court, forget about his staying in office, the issue becomes solely keeping him out of jail. When it comes right down to it, if I were more concerned about the rest of my client's life than preserving his job, and the GOP's electoral chances in CD 1, I would be pushing Dick to resign in order to avoid the need to go on the record with more specific denials and explanations that could possibly compromise his defense later.
Politico points out the GOP would be seriously disadvantaged in their efforts to hold CD 1 by an early Dick departure. They would fare much better, though they are likely still in deep trouble, if the seat were up for grabs in November, instead. They cite the large funding advantage held by both the DCCC over the RNCC, and between the parties' candidates on the ground.
Interestingly, Politico also compared Sydney Hay to Randy Graf - poison to her national fund-raising potential. Personally, because of Hays' ties to charter and home-school advocates, I think a better political parallel would be to Gov. Mike Huckabee, who home-schoolers did yeoman's work for in making his Presidential bid viable.
The Raw Story echoes Washinton Post reporter Ben Pershing's comments on RenziGate that indicate the formation of a conventional wisdom that the GOP is considerably better off running in a November election, rather than a quick special election, because of McCain's presence at the top of the ticket:
"If Renzi hangs around the rest of the year, he may generate some more bad publicity, but the race to replace him in Arizona's 1st District should at least be manageable for the GOP in November, especially with home state Sen. John McCain at the top of the ballot."
I've entertained this thought myself a for a while, but I'm increasing dubious about McCain's coattails in light recent polling by Bruce Merrill indicating a narrowing margin for McCain in Arizona, and the finding that most Arizonans don't expect McCain to actually win the Presidency, even if they plan to vote for him.
With softening support, a surging Democratic ticket, and pessimism even among Republican voters about McCain's chances, he may not have the coattails in this state that so many, including myself, have expected.
Dick's stench being dragged around Arizona for an extended period of time could even pox McClean's image as he battles his own allegations of campaign finance shenanigans.
McCain is rightly viewed as the real leader and paterfamilias of the Arizona Republican party, now that he's practically the GOP's nominee. It says something to voters that McCain sits on his hands and says nothing about Dick's troubles and his refusal to step down.
Considering the robocall McCain left CD 1 voters, it may be hard for his to put day-light between himself and Renzi at all:
"This is Senator John McCain. I'm calling to urge you to support my friend, Representative Rick Renzi for Congress. Rick has represented the first district of Arizona with tenacity, honesty and integrity beyond reproach. I work with Rick every day and can report to you his total dedication to the people of Arizona and the United States. Please join me in supporting rural Arizona's workhorse Congressman on November 7."
The longer Dick and John are easily associated in the public's mind by the nature of the their ethical troubles and their party affiliation, and the longer McCain tacitly condones Dick's behavior by not overtly condemning him and calling for his resignation, the more McClean's own shine may tarnish.
In the end, Renzi may wind up doing much more damage to McCain than any benefit the GOP may get from a November election rather than a special election to replace Arizona's own Tricky Dick.