Senators get their own cell phone towers installed, don’t pay for it. Rep. Tim Mahoney continues to sink in yet another installment in “When Sleeping Around Goes Wrong.” Rep. Rick Renzi tries to get the 35 criminal counts against him dismissed. This is today’s news:
The Washington Post released an excellent investigative piece showing that Verizon and AT&T were both working to install cell phone towers to provide service for Sen. John McCain’s Sedona, AZ ranch beginning last year, at a time when McCain’s presidential hopes seemed dim. Sen. McCain sits on the Senate Commerce Committee and the installation of free cell phone towers by corporations under the oversight of that same committee certainly counts as a conflict of interest. Also troubling is the ability of the McCain’s to hide this seeming in-kind contribution from their personal financial disclosures because it was ostensibly made at the request of Sen. McCain’s wife, Cindy. The Senator and his wife keep their finances separate and thus he does not have to fully disclose her financial activities on his annual personal financial disclosure. While the two telecommunications giants eventually abandonded the idea of permanently installing towers, they both provide portable towers at no-cost to the Senator’s ranch.
Rep. Rick Renzi, under indictment on 35 counts related to a land swap, accused the government of taping conversations with other members of Congress and bringing the corruption indictment against him for political reasons. Renzi also filed for a dismissal of the charges against him on the grounds that they violate the Speech and Debate Clause. Renzi is under indictment for allegedly using his position in Congress to push through a land swap that eventually netted him $700,000. Apparently, the congressman abides by the motto of the William Jefferson school of congressional corruption, “If you do it in an official capacity, they can’t investigate.” I don’t think that the Speech and Debate Clause was enacted as a way to make congressional offices into corruption safe rooms.
In worsening news for Rep. Tim Mahoney, an FBI investigation into his affairs is expanding to include the second affair with a high level county official, which Mahoney admitted to today, to determine whether he steered federal emergency funds to her county. An aide close to his campaign also announced that Rep. Mahoney may not seek reelection. If this is the case, all replacements should quickly be vetted to make sure that they don’t carry on the Foley-Mahoney curse.