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Justice Department Asks House Ethics Panel To Butt Out Of Renzi Case

The Justice Department has asked the House ethic committee not to conduct its own investigation into Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), who was indicted in February on 35 federal corruption charges, and the panel has agreed to that request.

In a press release just issued by the Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the ethics committee, the Ohio Democrat said the panel had voted unanimously to "refrain frmo attempting to interview or depose witnesses linked to the criminal proceedings involving Representative Renzi."

Under House ethics committee rules, the panel may not intervene in a case that is actively under investigation by state, local or federal law-enforcement agenices.

Jones said the four-member investigative subcommittee appointed to look into the Renzi case will "continue to monitor the criminal proceedings and will consider pursuing avenues of inquiry that it concludes do interfere with law enforcement efforts and criminal indictment pending against Representative Renzi." That panel is chaired by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) serving as ranking member.

I hate to say that I told you so, but I told you so. This is what I wrote on Feb. 28, when the investigative subcommittee was first appointed:  "But as all House ethics committee watchers know — and the Crypt counts itself among that fraternity — the ethics committee is not going to do anything about Renzi. Nothing. Not a blessed thing. Bank on it." It looks like I was right.