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Renzi Allegedly Funded First House Race With Embezzled Money

The Federal Election Commission audited now indicted Rep. Rick Renzi's (R-Ariz.) 2001-02 campaign back in '04 and identified more than $369,000 in "impermissible corporate funds" given by Renzi to his campaign committee. Renzi and his attorneys said that the money was from "personal funds" and thus allowable, and the FEC, despite numerous questions about the source of the funds, took no formal action against him. Renzi had used that disputed money in 2002 to narrowly defeat Democrat George Cordova, winning with only 49% of the vote in a close general-election race.

Now, however, the Justice Department has a different explanation for where that money came from - Renzi and a business associate named Andrew Beardall were allegedly skimming hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Renzi-owned insurance company, and Renzi steered more than $400,000 of stolen money into his first run for a House seat. Thus, according to Justice, Renzi - who raised just over $1.65 million during that cycle - basically illegally redirected about a quarter of the money he used to win his race from the customers of one of his companies.

According to Friday's indictement of Renzi, the Arizona Republican "concealed his misappropriation and embezzlement by filing Federal Election Commission Form 3, Reports of Receipts and Disbursements, on or about Jan. 24, 2002, for the final quarter of 2001. During the period Dec. 11, 2001 through Dec. 31, 2001, Renzi claimed total receipts of $404,090.00, all of which he claimed to be loans from himself. In fact, as as Renzi well knew, more than $300,000.00 of those funds constituted insurance premiums that were neither the property of Renzi nor of Renzi and Company."

In total, Renzi allegedly steered $422,000 in embezzled funds to his campaign between Dec. 2001 and March 2002, according to the indictment. Beardall allegedly assisted Renzi in covering up the embezzlement from state insurance regulators in Florida and Virginia.

Back in 2004, FEC auditors initially found that $585,090 "appeared to have been funded with monies" from two corporations controlled by Renzi - Renzi and Company, and Fountain Realty and Development, Inc., which was formerly known as Renzi Investments, Inc., according to the final audit of Rick Renzi for Congress released by the FEC on Dec. 13, 2004.


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