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Arizona Rep. Renzi low on campaign funds

Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., is dealing with dwindling campaign funds amidst continuing legal troubles.
Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., is dealing with dwindling campaign funds amidst continuing legal troubles.Sabah Arar / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi, dogged by legal woes, is running low on campaign cash, giving Democrats more hope that they can win his House seat.

Renzi, whose family business was raided by the FBI last April, ended the last quarter with $20,418 in the bank, according to campaign finance reports covering April 1-June 30. That is just one-quarter of the $80,000 he had on hand at the end of the first three months of the year.

He raised $41,664 during the quarter, a fraction of the $300,000 he raised during the same period in the last election cycle.

The report, filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission, showed Renzi has spent $126,388 and owes $456,024.

Renzi's office did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment Monday.

GOP leaders concerned
Of the half-dozen Republican House members under some form of federal scrutiny, party leaders are most concerned about the allegations concerning Renzi and Rep. John Doolittle, their colleagues say.

Doolittle, R-Calif., left the powerful Appropriations Committee in April after FBI agents raided his Washington-area home. His wife, Julie, ran a business from the home in which she received commissions as a paid fundraiser for her husband's campaigns. Her clients included now-jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Doolittle's fundraising also has slowed. The nine-term conservative reported raising $100,183 from April 1 through June 30, $50,000 less than in the same period during the last election cycle. He had legal fees of $30,000 in connection with the Abramoff investigation, ending the quarter with $74,383 cash on-hand and debts of $106,633.

Doolittle narrowly beat Democrat Charlie Brown last year, and Brown, who wants a rematch, is way ahead in the money race. Brown raised $193,238 from April 1-June 30, ending with $268,574 cash on-hand and debts of just about $17,000. Doolittle says he intends to run for re-election.

Ethical uncertainty
Renzi has been shadowed by ethical questions for several years. They came to a head in mid-April when federal officials, investigating a multimillion-dollar land deal that benefited a Renzi associate, raided a Sonoita, Ariz., insurance business owned by Renzi's wife, Roberta.

The status of the investigation is unclear. In past statements, Renzi has denied all wrongdoing.

On the day of the raid, he stepped down temporarily from the House Intelligence Committee. A few days later, he took a leave of absence from the House Financial Services and Natural Resources committees.

Since then, several Democrats, including state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, have expressed interest in running for his seat in 2008.

While Renzi has insisted that he is not resigning his House seat, it is unclear whether he will seek re-election.

Among Renzi's expenses last quarter were a $25,000 administrative penalty to the Federal Election Commission and $25,000 in legal fees.

The $25,000 fine was assessed earlier this spring for understating receipts and disbursements and overstating cash on hand in campaign reports filed shortly before and after the 2002 election.