Thursday, October 12, 2006

Harry Reid: Influence-Peddler?

The Senator from Nevada's a very helpful guy. Captain's Quarters prints the REST of the story--that the NYSlimes didn't bother with:

Reid's avoidance of disclosure hid two aspects of his business relationships. The first was his association with Jay Brown, who has a history of being involved in scandal. The NY Times describes him as "a prominent Las Vegas lawyer," but they never get around to mentioning his involvement in a federal bribery case in Las Vegas. Nor do they mention Brown's work as a lobbyist, as the AP did, nor do they follow up on the AP's report of connections between Brown and organized crime.

The other part Reid wanted to keep secret was the financial ties between himself and Harvey Whittemore. The AP story reported that Reid bought the parcel from "a developer who was benefiting from a government land swap that Reid supported," a perfect description of Whittemore in 1998 when Reid purchased the land.

For the next seven years, Reid would work to ease Whittemore's difficulties in developing the Coyote Springs project by forcing the government to swap its right-of-way for less valuable land owned by Whittemore; he tried to get the government to literally give away more of its land to Whittemore, although he would not succeed; and in the end, he pressed federal regulators to lift a endangered-species restriction on Whittemore's Coyote Springs real estate. All of this helped give Whittemore an opportunity to make tens of millions on residential and commercial development in the former test range site.

Disclosing those partnerships, the latter of which the NYT doesn't even bother to mention from the AP report, would have exposed Reid's machinations for Coyote Springs as financially beneficial to himself through his partnership with Whittemore and Brown. Reid has no choice but to amend the disclosures, but by now it's far too late; Congress agreed to almost everything Whittemore needed already, pushed by Reid in a blatantly corrupt manner. And now we know the payoff: a real-estate "investment" that garnered a 175% return in six years.

Disclosures now are pointless. The Ethics panel needs to order a full investigation not just into the $700,000 profit, but all of Reid's business partners and any legislation or intervention with federal regulators Reid pushed on their behalf.

"Leadership" problems run on both sides of the aisle...

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