‘Arizona Republic’ Cites Email in U.S. Attorney Scandal

By: E&P Staff

The state Democratic Party wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to look into a possible connection between the ouster of Arizona U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton and his investigation of Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz.

Two weeks after Charlton was ordered to give up his post, he sent an e-mail in December to a top Justice Department official asking how to handle questions that his ouster was connected to the Renzi probe, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.

Charlton, one of eight federal prosecutors forced to resign last year, never received a written response.

His e-mail was among more than 3,000 pages of records the Bush administration turned over to Congress late Monday as part of an ongoing congressional investigation into the ousters. Democrats released the documents Tuesday.

Congressional investigators and others trying to figure out if Charlton was scuttled by partisan politics.

“Obviously, there needs to be an investigation,” said Rep. Harry Mitchell, D-Ariz. “You need to find out the facts. It shouldn’t be partisan at all.”

The Arizona Democratic Party wrote Tuesday to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asking that it look into a connection between Charlton’s removal and the Renzi investigation.

The letter said the investigation appears to have stalled since Charlton was forced out.

In October, Justice Department officials confirmed that Renzi was the subject of an inquiry into a land swap that would benefit a friend and business associate.

Renzi has denied any wrongdoing.

The newest e-mails, memos and other records indicate that Justice Department officials were still trying to settle on a complete explanation for why Charlton was called on Dec. 7 and told to resign.

In different drafts of an undated Justice Department memo prepared this year and released Tuesday, some possible reasons for Charlton’s ouster were crossed out, including a reference to obscenity prosecution, and others were added later.

The Justice Department and the White House on Tuesday denied the administration had any political motives for seeking the resignations, and President Bush said Democrats on Capitol Hill were engaged in a “partisan fishing expedition.”

Charlton defended his performance Tuesday, saying: “My record speaks for itself, and I am proud of the positions I took with Justice.”

Information from: The Arizona Republic, http://www.azcentral.com

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