Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dirty Harry Needs To Practice What He Preaches

Sen. Harry Reid (D), the Democratic leader of the Senate, has been preaching a lot to Republicans lately about how to practice ethics. Take for example this statement he made:

"Americans have been shocked and even disgusted by revelations of corruption in our current system by Republican lobbyists, senior Bush Administration officials, members of Congress, and former congressional staff," Reid said in March. "The scandals have shown that some outsiders and insiders believed they could act with impunity."

It turns out Sen. Reid thinks he can engage in insider land deals without impunity as well. We now know that Reid purchased some Las Vegas land for $400,000 and turned around and sold it to a company he and one of his wealthy buddies owned. The buddy used his insider influence to get the land rezoned for a shopping center, the land was then sold, and Reid cleared a $700,000 profit on a $1.1 million sale within a few short years of his original purchase. Reid didn't bother to report the transaction on his financial disclosure statement until an AP reporter started asking questions about the sweetheart deal. He hung up on the AP reporter, but he made a mad dash to make a "technical amendment" to his original disclosure statement to make it all appear like an innocent mistake. Oh, and did I mention Reid's business partner's name has surfaced in a number of federal investigations involving organized crime?

Democratic bloggers are acting in accordance with their typical hypocrisy, notably John Arovosis of AmericaBlog. Reacting to the AP story, Arovosis writes:

Knowing that there is a very good chance that Harry Reid will be the Senate Majority Leader in a matter of weeks, the GOP and their friends in the media have launched a massive smear campaign against him. They're finding alleged issues that no one can understand to besmirch the Senator from Nevada.

Sorry John, but this insider deal isn't a hard one for me to understand. And I doubt it's one that most Americans would find hard to understand as well. Arovosis thinks Reid's amendment to his financial disclosure form is nothing more than a "pre-emptive action to disarm his opponents by going above and beyond ethical requirements." Give me a break. Arovosis has been screaming louder and harder than anyone else about the Abramoff and Foley scandals. Of course, he doesn't like talking about the fact that Reid helped out Abramoff's Indian tribe clients with their casino interests and collected about $68,000 in campaign contributions from him.


Wilson46201 said...

You'd certainly think a Senator from Nevada would be friendly to gambling interests, wouldnt you?

With the stench of corruption emanating from Republicans Delay, Cunningham, Ney, Weldon, etc and the rest of Bush's Rubber Stamp Congress, KennyBoi Mehlman is working overtime to spray all the perfumes of Araby over their crimes...

The Republican Revolution of 1994 has become the 2006 money-grubbing K-Street supplicants...

Anonymous said...

AI - you make no attempt to explain why this deal is illegal or inappropriate. I believe the only potential violation by Reid was his failure to report the earnings on his financial disclosure statement. This has nothing at all to do with the propriety or legality of the underlying transaction. Your post suggests something quite different, and by orders of magnitude more nefarious.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Obviously, you didn't look at the AP story I cited:

Kent Cooper, a former Federal Election Commission official who oversaw government disclosure reports for federal candidates for two decades, said Reid's failure to report the 2001 sale and his ties to Brown's company violated Senate rules.

"This is very, very clear," Cooper said. "Whether you make a profit or a loss you've got to put that transaction down so the public, voters, can see exactly what kind of money is moving to or from a member of Congress."

"It is especially disconcerting when you have a member of the leadership, of either party, not putting in the effort to make sure this is a complete and accurate report," said Cooper. "That says something to other members. It says something to the Ethics Committee."

Other parts of the deal - such as the informal handling of property taxes - raise questions about possible gifts or income reportable to Congress and the IRS, ethics experts said.

Doug said...

John Solomon isn't exactly the most credible reporter on the subject of Harry Reid. I seem to recall him getting a number of facts wrong a few months ago with respect to Reid's supposedly nefarious receipt of seats at a boxing match.

My understanding of Reid's transgression with respect to reporting is that he transferred ownership of the land to an LLC he controlled for no consideration. Apparently even that sort of paper transfer is supposed to be reported, and he didn't do it.

I haven't been following either case very closely, but how do you suppose this compares to the brouhaha over Hastert's alleged profiting off of land he owned in Kendall County, IL, supposedly because he steered construction of a highway near the property?

I see that Media Matters has done some comparing and contrasting, but they're hardly unbiased.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The Hastert land deal is fair game as well. You will recall I brought attention to that sweetheart deal as well.

Anonymous said...

Land transactions which span 3-5 years in highly-speculative markets like SE Florida, Las Vegas, and the like...it's not unusual to reap huge profits. In central Indiana, we've been relatively isolated from wild price swings, so we're not used to seeing these kinds of profits. But they occur, legitimately, all the time in other markets. If the information which led to the purchase, and later the rezoning, was not available to the public, and was available to Sen. Reid or his investment buds, Sen. Reid has some questions to answer.

This land deal went down in 2001, I'm told. Isn't it unusual that it's being raised now?

The good senator needs to explain.

AI--there are similar land deals all the time right under our noses in this city. Not for this kind of money, but with this kind of influence-peddling under the surface.

Evidence, the city's awarding of the Market Square development deal to a group headed by former Deputy Mayor Shrewsberry. A review of the competing bid packages, by anyone remotely involved with real estate, would've led to the conclusion that the winning bidder had a very ambitious, or some might say impossible, plan. Competing plans were far more realistic.

What happened? The Shrewsberry plan won. And 30 months later, it's stalled because--guess what--their original predicitons were overly optimistic. Some of the competing bidders have scattered now...and a few should be revived. The IBJ ran an excellent article on all the bids, and some were borderline brilliant. Not so the winning bid.

Not as sexy as Sen. Reid's adventure, but highly quesitonable nonetheless. And the end result is...a gravel parking lot still sits on that corner.

Anonymous said...

The entire Senate leadership--both sides--is an odd display.

Sen. Frist, was hand-picked by W when Lott ran into his Strom Thurmond mistake...and that was solely because Lott actively opposed GHWB for president. Paybacks are hell. W's memory is deep, his loyalty demands high...

Reid was chosen minority leader for similarly silly reasons--no one else wanted it. Durbin was gonna run, but couldn't muster enough votes. Nobody likes Reid, but he's the default leader.

It's high time we elected senators and representatives who, if they're in the right place at the right time, could rise to leadership positions. Indiana has two excellent senators and mostly good Congresspersons.

But Dan Burton was in the right place at the right time, too, and as a result, he chaired an important committee for two freaking years. It was a national nightmare and everyone on both sides of the aisle knoew it, but nobody did anything about it. The spillover from that mistake is still evident in DC--his malcontent staff is scattered to the winds infecting other efforts all over the capital.

It's all about integrity, because any of these folks, at any time, could be thrust into leadership positions.

tbone6004 said...

I believe you are incorrect in your statement that Reid received $68,000 in campaign donations from Abramoff. He did not receive any donations from Abramoff. He did receive those donations from the Indian tribes. You should get your facts straight and be careful citing "facts" from right wing websites