Aide to Rep. Renzi called ousted U.S. Attorney

Troubles are mounting for Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Arizona), the co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus.

FBI agents raided the home of a business owned by his wife. He has stepped down from three committees, including the key House Natural Resources panel, as a result.

News reports that his top aide, who has since resigned and is cooperating with investigators, called the office of ousted U.S. Attorney Paul K. Charlton to ask about the probe are fanning the flames. Charlton has told House investigators that the call may have been improper.

Other sources told The Wall Street Journal that Charlton's office faced opposition in pursuing Renzi from the Department of Justice in Washington. The probe came as Renzi was seeking re-election to a district that includes parts of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Reservation and some Apache reservations.

As the investigation became public last fall, Charlton's name was added to a list of U.S. Attorneys who were fired by the Bush administration.

The FBI probe reportedly centers on Renzi's involvement in a federal land exchange bill that requires Resolution Copper Co., a joint venture between Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, to purchase land owned by one of Renzi's business partners. Resolution wants to open a copper mine on federal land.

The San Carlos Apache Tribe, the Tonto Apache Tribe and the Yavapai Apache Nation oppose the proposal. Tribal leaders said they weren't consulted about the deal, which affects sensitive land used for collecting herbs, food and medicinal plants.

Due to the controversy, Renzi says a new version of the bill will be introduced.

Get the Story:
Renzi Aide Called U.S. Attorney to Ask About Probe (The Washington Post 4/26)
Renzi didn’t reveal $200K (The Hill 4/26)
Apaches, Yavapais oppose land exchange (The Apache Moccasin 4/25)
Delays in Renzi Case Raise More Gonzales Questions (The Wall Street Journal 4/25)
Land-Swap Plan Causes Trouble For Congressman (The Wall Street Journal 4/21)

Relevant Links:
Rep. Rick Renzi -

Related Stories:
Rep. Renzi steps down from Resources Committee (4/25)
Rep. Renzi steps down from panel after FBI raid (4/20)
A new co-chair for Native American Caucus (01/26)
Rep. Renzi seeks funds for Navajo-Hopi efforts (12/07)
Letter: Rep. Renzi insulted Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation (11/08)
Preliminary investigation into Renzi land deal (10/25)
Navajo Democrat upset over Renzi 'endorsement' (10/09)
Cobell endorses Republican Renzi in Arizona (10/27)
Navajo Nation council nearly endorses Renzi rival (10/20)
Renzi wins endorsement of Navajo Nation Council (10/19)
Navajo council asked to choose Renzi over Babbitt (09/14)