Still Pissed Off About the Hawley-Smoot Tariff

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Harry Reid Lectures Republicans on the Importance of Giving Answers

Harry Reid's most recent blog post: "Republican Leadership Owes the American People Answers."

That's from six days ago, so it's well before what happened today, when he hung up on an AP reporter who was investigating his failure to disclose a 1.1 million dollar land sale in his financial reports. In all fairness, maybe he changed his mind on the importance of answering questions between last Friday and today.

On a side note, I really like this line from Reid's blog:

"What is needed is for Republican leaders to testify under oath about what they knew, when they knew it, and why they didn't properly act."

I like that loaded question. "Mr. Hastert, why didn't you act properly? Remember, you're under oath." I also like that Reid is demanding that Republicans testify under oath, while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi refuses to testify under oath on the exact same scandal.

Back to the 1.1 million dollars:

"Reid did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company, according to records and interviews."

Someone on his blog is defending Reid by saying it's a simple accounting error (listing the property as a personal asset rather than one held by a dummy company), but Reid had an obligation to divulge his interest in said company (actually an LLC, for those of you who care about the specifics).

"_The deal began in 1998 when Reid bought undeveloped residential property on Las Vegas' booming outskirts for about $400,000. Reid bought one lot outright, and a second parcel jointly with Brown. One of the sellers was a developer who was benefiting from a government land swap that Reid supported. The seller never talked to Reid.

"_In 2001, Reid sold the land for the same price to a limited liability corporation created by Brown. The senator didn't disclose the sale on his annual public ethics report or tell Congress he had any stake in Brown's company. He continued to report to Congress that he personally owned the land.

"_After getting local officials to rezone the property for a shopping center, Brown's company sold the land in 2004 to other developers and Reid took $1.1 million of the proceeds, nearly tripling the senator's investment. Reid reported it to Congress as a personal land sale."

Making a false report to Congress, and failing to disclose an interest in your buddy's company? Hmm, that doesn't sound good.

"'Everything I did was transparent,' Reid said. 'I paid all the taxes. Everything is fully disclosed to the ethics committee and everyone else. As I said, if there is some technical change that the ethics committee wants, I'll be happy to do that.'"

Will you testify about it under oath? Just curious. As far as transparency goes, I wonder if the local officials who approved the zoning changes knew about Reid's interest. Just something that, say, a reporter might wonder about, assuming he didn't get hung up on before asking the question.

"They also said they have no documents proving Reid's stake in the company because it was an informal understanding between friends."

No documents reflecting an ownership interest in a piece of property initially worth $400,000.00, and later sold for $1.1 million? If that's true, it's far more damning, because it proves he's borderline mentally retarded.

"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.'"

Hey, no harm, no foul, right?

Jack M. has a long post at Ace's on the fact that the leaker here is a former Reid staffer, and he speculates about the implications. Interesting reading.


Clarification: I actually doubt there's very little substance to this story. I see no evidence that the land transfer to the LLC and the payout were illegal or unethical. The most that can be said is speculation about improper influence in the zoning, but as I said, that would just be speculation. The fact that Reid screwed up his disclosure statements may reflect either genuine impropiety or a simple mistake, without much evidence suggesting it's more likely to be impropriety. His violation of the ethics rules is more technical than substantive, indicating little more than a too-casual attitude towards reporting.

My real criticism of Reid is two-fold: first, he demands that Republicans give answers but feels free to hang up on reporters. Second, opportunistic gasbag that Reid has become, there is no doubt in my mind that if this were a story about a Republican, he would be making the same charges I made above.

Also, he's a nose-picker, as indicated in the photo that was in no way photoshopped.