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President Obama’s executive action authorizing amnesty for at least 5 million illegal immigrants was obviously unlawful and unconstitutional. He’s said so many times himself. He claims he had no choice since the good of the country demanded that he act. But that’s really not true either.
Stupid is as stupid does
PHOENIX -- Rejecting claims his congressional privilege was violated, a federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the convictions of Rick Renzi on charges of extortion, fraud, conspiracy and racketeering.
The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that members of Congress are entitled to certain constitutional protections from being questioned about their official acts. And that generally would extend to members of the congressman's staff.
But Judge Richard Tallman, writing for the unanimous court, said Renzi opened the door when he attempted to use his own legislative acts as a defense in the criminal case. And that, the judge said, allowed prosecutors to then question Renzi's staffers about the acts to make their case that he was lying.
"The rationale makes sense,'' Tallman wrote. "A congressman cannot claim the protections of the privilege when he himself introduces the volatile evidence.''
Thursday's action not only upholds the 17-count conviction following his trial in Tucson but the three-year prison term imposed on him last year. The appellate court, which had allowed him to remain free during the appeal, made no mention in Thursday's ruling when he would be ordered to report.
The main charge relates to efforts by Resolution Copper Co. to acquire land from the federal government it needs to begin mining near Superior.
According to testimony, Renzi, first elected to Congress from the sprawling district in 2002, agreed to sponsor legislation to authorize Resolution to get the land through a swap with environmentally sensitive land the federal government wanted. But Renzi said that land that Resolution had to buy and offer had to be a 640-acre parcel of land in Cochise County, adjacent to the San Pedro River, which was owned by James Sandlin.
Bruno Hegner, a former Resolution executive, told jurors of an angry phone call from Renzi in 2005 that "unless the Sandlin property were included in the exchange package, he would not sponsor legislation.'' And Hegner said when he attempted to explain the difficulties of such a deal, Renzi said, "no Sandlin property, no bill.''
Prosecutors said Renzi's interest in that property was that Sandlin, a former business partner, owed him $700,000 and needed the cash to pay off the debt. And when Hegner found out the pair had been in business together, the company opted not to purchase the Cochise County property and Renzi's swap legislation died.
He left Congress at the end of 2008 after his indictment but before his trial. To date, Congress has yet to approve a deal with Resolution to acquire the land it wants near Superior.
Renzi also was convicted of a separate effort to get Sandlin's property purchased by The Aries
Group as a condition of pushing a separate exchange of federal land the company wanted near Florence. Court records show Aries paid Sandlin $1.5 million in principal plus another $153,000 in interest but that a federal land exchange bill with Aries never was introduced.
And he also was found guilty of separate offenses that he embezzled insurance premiums paid by clients of his brokerage firm.
Thursday's ruling is unlikely the last word.
"We are disappointed with the court's ruling,'' said Kelly Kramer, one of Renzi's Washington, D.C. attorneys. "We intend to seek further appellate review.''
Among the arguments Kramer presented was that Renzi was interested in having Sandlin's land acquired because it was being leased to a farmer who was pumping a lot of water from the San Pedro watershed. And that drain of water, in turn, endangered the future of Fort Huachuca.
That is what made crucial the testimony Renzi sought to block from Joanne Keene, his former congressional district director.
She told jurors that Renzi "did not seem very excited and interested in the Resolution Copper exchange'' when the Sandlin tract was not longer part of it.'' And Keene also said Renzi told her he "wanted to put the brakes on'' the Aries exchange after Congressman Duke Cunningham had been indicted on charges of public corruption.
In Thursday's ruling, Tallman said both conversations were admissible because they went directly to counter Renzi's arguments there were different reasons for his actions.
Rejecting claims his congressional privilege was violated, a federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the convictions of Rick Renzi on charges of extortion, fraud, conspiracy and racketeering.
Q: Why are you running?
A: I am running for office because I think we need real leadership in Congress. On issues like immigration, national security and the economy, Kyrsten Sinema and the Obama administration have failed us, and things will not change until we change the type of people we send to Washington, D.C. Kyrsten Sinema said she ran for office to change things, but during her two years in Congress, she has done nothing but support government bureaucrats and stand behind the Obama agenda. Politicians like Kyrsten Sinema have increased the national debt, grown the size of government and supported higher taxes. Arizona deserves better.
Q: Have the issues at the VA been properly addressed? What else would you like to see done to help veterans in our area?
A: Steps have been taken to help alleviate the problems, but the problem is by no means fully addressed. There are still substantial waiting lists at VA hospitals across the country, and that is unacceptable. One of the things I would like to see happen is for the government to allow veterans to seek care at non-VA hospitals and have it covered by the VA if the VA cannot accommodate their request for care in a reasonable time frame. Too many veterans are waiting too long for care, and to me this seems like the most expedient solution. I was very disappointed with the way that Kyrsten Sinema chose to address this issue. During her campaign in 2012, she readily admitted that there were problems in the VA system and promised to work on them, but instead she did nothing when she got to Washington, holding hearings and giving in to bureaucracy instead of taking action. When the truth about the extent of the problem at the VA was brought to light, I was the first to call on the VA secretary to resign and propose solutions to the problem. Meanwhile, Kyrsten Sinema just asked for hearings and studies, waiting until the higher-ups in her party took a position before following their lead.
Q: What kind of effect has the Affordable Care Act had on Arizonans?
A: The Affordable Care Act has certainly failed to live up to its name. Instead of making health care more affordable, this short-sighted law has saddled taxpayers with additional debt while making care even harder to obtain. Obamacare has led to narrow-network insurance plans that offer very few choices and poor coverage. People who liked their insurance or doctors have not been allowed to keep them, despite the platitudes of President Obama and Kyrsten Sinema, and I think that voters across the district are beginning to see that we did not get the bargain we were promised from this law.
Q: What are your thoughts on the recent ruling and impending hearing about gay marriage in Arizona? And do you support the state’s ban on it?
A: I believe marriage is between one man and one woman.
Q: What can Congress do to spur job growth in our area? What industries would you target?
A: I think the best thing that Congress can do to spur job growth is to get government red tape out of the way. Free markets are the answer, but government intervention through unnecessary bureaucracy is holding our economy back. Government should not be in the business of picking economic winners and losers.
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Gilbert voters won’t have to vote in November for its new Town Council members, although there’s still some doubt who will fill the fourth open seat.
The candidates for the Mesa City Council and the mayoral race won’t have to run again in November as one candidate from all four races received more than 50 percent of the vote during Tuesday’s primary election.
Talking with John Giles and Danny Ray, it is immediately obvious that neither man previously saw himself where the two find themselves now, campaigning for the office of mayor in Mesa. And yet, in a few short weeks, the residents of Mesa must choose between the two of them to replace interim Mayor Alex Finter and lead the City Council.
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake received praise from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the second year in a row in regards to his business-friendly voting record.
Mesa mayoral candidates John Giles and Danny Ray broached a number of issues concerning the city they want to govern during a forum hosted by the East Valley Tribune earlier this month.
Rejecting arguments the state cannot afford it, a judge has ordered Gov. Jan Brewer and the Republican-controlled Legislature to come up with an extra $316 million immediately — and potentially $2.9 billion over five years — to make up for aid to schools they illegally withheld.
The voters of Congressional District 9 are faced with a couple of choices. Do we keep Democrat Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema to represent us or do we elect someone else?
Crony capitalism occurs when government and the private sector scratch each other’s back. But that isn’t capitalism at all — rather its opposite.
Youth entrepreneurship isn’t just about curbside lemonade stands. Generation Y has been making its own income in innovative ways. For many of them, that means entrepreneurship. According to Kauffman Foundation, young entrepreneurship in the U.S. is on the rise, with the 20-34 age group comprising 29 percent of the total new entrepreneurship activity in 2011.
It was 50 years ago Barry Goldwater declared “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” The political world gasped and he suffered a crushing defeat in the 1964 presidential election. Today, pundits and the “legacy media” commonly emphasize the importance of keeping those extremists marginalized.
It was 50 years ago that Barry Goldwater declared “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” The political world gasped and he suffered a crushing defeat in the 1964 presidential election. Today, pundits and the “legacy media” commonly emphasize the importance of keeping those extremists marginalized.
WASHINGTON — U.S. public high schools have reached a milestone, an 80 percent graduation rate. Yet that still means 1 of every 5 students walks away without a diploma.
With the city’s proposed 2014-15 budget complete, the Chandler City Council will host a series of public meetings in May and June to review and eventually adopt a budget that will begin July 1.
Rep. Salmon, (Congressional District 5) is campaigning in high gear by mailing slick appeals to the rabble to guarantee his reelection.
The pension system for the city of Phoenix is on the verge of ruin. Years of abuse, mismanagement and political malfeasance have pushed the city’s ailing pension fund toward a crisis, threatening to cost future taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. This silently mushrooming debt has put Phoenix in fiscal dire straits similar to those of Detroit and Chicago.
A $9.21 billion spending plan approved Tuesday by the state Senate is unacceptable and could draw a veto, a top aide to Gov. Jan Brewer said.
“If the three mess-kateers on the Gilbert School Board are correct about administrators resigning left and right because they are overpaid embezzlers afraid of being caught, then why are all the other A+ districts falling all over themselves to quickly hire them to prestigious positions?”
Congressional Republicans are like a pathetic victim of bullying. When faced with a challenge, they draw up into a ball and beg not to be kicked.