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October 13, 2006

Harry Reid Link Bonanza

1. What he did.

As Curt over at Flopping Aces points out, this deal really isn't that hard to understand: In 1998, Reid bought the land, zoned for residential use, for $400,000.

In 2001, Reid sold the land for no profit to a friend, getting a share of the limited liability company that held the property.

The LLC tried to get the land rezoned for commercial use, but was rebuffed by the Clark County Zoning Commission.

The LLC then appealled the decision to the full Clark County Commission and lobbied the commission, going so far as invoking Reid's name to the commission in a public hearing on the matter.

The zoning commission's original decision was then vetoed, and they rezoned the property for commercial use.

In 2004, the property was sold for $1.6 million, netting the LLC $1.2 million profit.

Reid never reported the sale of the property to the LLC, as he is required by law to do.

2. Why he did this.

THE BEST CASE for Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is that he was sloppy about financial disclosure rules in accounting for a real estate deal on which he made a $700,000 profit. The more unattractive case is that the senator's inaccurate description of the investment was an effort to disguise his partnership with a Las Vegas lawyer who's never been charged with wrongdoing but whose name has surfaced in federal investigations involving organized crime, casinos and political bribery since the 1980s. As of now, the evidence points toward sloppiness; Mr. Reid's friendship with Jay Brown isn't exactly a secret in the state. But either way, an Associated Press report about Mr. Reid's dealings doesn't cast the senator in an attractive light. Neither does his response to the AP story, which indicates a casual disregard for the importance of accurate reporting of lawmakers' financial affairs. . . .

Mr. Reid's professions of transparency and full disclosure are transparently wrong. His investment was not reported in a manner that made clear his partnership with Mr. Brown. It's true -- under the inadequate financial disclosure rules -- that even if Mr. Reid had listed the newly formed corporation, Patrick Lane LLC, that wouldn't have by itself demonstrated Mr. Brown's involvement. Nonetheless, that Mr. Reid no longer owned the land, but instead had sold it for an interest in the Patrick Lane corporation, was not some mere "technical change," as the senator would like to brush it off. It's an essential element of financial disclosure rules, the purpose of which is to know how and with whom public officials are financially entwined.

That's from the Washington Post, by the way.

Instapundit has more on the link.

3. Even more reason why he did this.

Land deals are the meat-and-potatoes of government corruption, sometimes illegal, sometimes merely smelly. Behind every crooked politician, there's a crooked land deal. My first big story was the existential essence of the land deal: a couple of the local pols used insider advance knowledge to buy up land around a proposed freeway interchange for resale under the name of a dummy company.

The goverment builds on, buys, sells, or rezones land. Said land increases in value. Pols, friends, relatives invariably exploit the change. Harry's part of a grand bipartisan tradition. If more reporters were covering this stuff at City Hall, there would be many fewer bad guys of either party in Congress.

4. How the media is covering it. Short answer: It's not. Although Instapundit links several print editorials about the scandal, the TV media is almost entirely embargoing it. Just keep scrolling at Newsbusters to see that it hardly rates a mention, anywhwere, while Mark Foley continues getting multiple mentions per newscast.

The most brazen and absurd non-coverage comes, of course, from the New York Times.

They do mention the story.

Check it out:

New York Times reporter Philip Shenon covers the possible financial scandal involving House Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid…very carefully. For one, "Senator Offers to Amend Financial Forms" is the most benign headline imaginable -- as if Reid is doing everyone a favor by offering to follow the law.

Contrast that with the negative headline over the Times' AP story about Republican Sen. George Allen from Monday, which has no problem focusing the blame: "Virginia Senator Did Not Disclose Stock Options."


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posted by Ace at 03:23 PM

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