By Ron Selak Jr.
Congressman Tim Ryan continues to keep the heat on high on the Brazilian government to return a woman to the U.S. to face trial in Trumbull County for the 2007 shooting death of the woman's husband.
The Niles Democrat recently cornered Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during a Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations meeting on a decision by the Air Force to award a very lucrative contract to build planes to a Brazilian-based company over a company based in Wichita, Kan.
Some of Ryan's concern about the decision dealt with national security and the loss of jobs here, but he also took advantage of the time with Hagel to point out the ''cruel irony'' of the situation.
That is Brazil's continuing refusal to return to the states Claudia Hoerig, who faces a charge of aggravated murder in connection to the death of Air Force Maj. Karl Hoerig, who was found dead inside the couple's Newton Falls home, shot in the back of the head.
''They have thumbed their nose at us in this process and so it's difficult for me as someone who has been dealing with this and the Hoerig family back in Ohio to see the Brazilian government thumb their nose at the State Department and then the Defense Department is giving them this huge contract,'' Ryan said during the hearing.
Ryan asked Hagel to personally review the award to the company in Brazil and independently determine whether the contract should stand as on what's called a ''program of record,'' which ultimately could lead to billions of dollars in more contracts for the Brazilian company.
Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, said he wasn't aware of the Hoerig matter and that he would review the contract award. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, likewise, is reviewing the contract award based upon a protest, Hagel said.
Ryan has the track record to prove that he isn't going away on this matter.
In 2009, Ryan and former Congressman John Boccieri reached out to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for help in getting an extradition hearing. Ryan also has written to others in the U.S. and Brazilian governments looking for help.
Two years later he introduced legislation that would block aid to Brazil, but the bill stalled.
And earlier this year, Ryan and Marietta Republican Bill Johnson aligned to introduce a pair of bills that would stop $14 million in U.S. aid to Brazil and another that would deny visas to Brazilians. The bills are in different committees.
''We can't reward bad behavior by giving Brazil this contract,'' Ryan said in a news release regarding his challenge of the defense contract. ''Karl Hoerig served our country and died at the hands of a person now living freely and openly in Brazil. There has to be consequences for harboring fugitives.''