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November 15, 2006

Reid Supported Bridge Earmark That Increased Value Of His Real Estate

Isn't it funny that the media is just getting around to this sort of reportage after the elections have been won by the Democrats?

Seems like this would have been useful information to voters on November 7th, no?

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vows to make reform of congressional earmarks a priority of his tenure, arguing that members need to be more transparent when they load pet projects for their districts into federal spending bills.

But last year's huge $286-billion federal transportation bill included a little-noticed slice of pork pushed by Reid that provided benefits not only for the casino town of Laughlin, Nev., but also, possibly, for the senator himself.

Reid called funding for construction of a bridge over the Colorado River, among other projects, "incredibly good news for Nevada" in a news release after passage of the 2005 transportation bill. He didn't mention, though, that just across the river in Arizona, he owns 160 acres of land several miles from proposed bridge sites and that the bridge could add value to his real estate investment.

Reid denies any personal financial interest in his efforts to secure $18 million for a new span connecting Laughlin with Bullhead City, Ariz.

"Sen. Reid's support for the bridge had absolutely nothing to do with property he owns," said Rebecca Kirszner, Reid's communications director. "Sen. Reid supported this project as part of his continuing efforts to move Nevada forward."

But some Bullhead City property owners and local officials say a new bridge will undoubtedly hike land values in an already-booming commuter town, where speculators are snapping up undeveloped land for housing developments and other projects. Experts on congressional spending say Reid's earmark provides yet another sign of the need for reform.

"It's a really bad idea for lawmakers to earmark projects when they have a financial interest that could in any way be affected by it," said Norman Ornstein, coauthor of "The Broken Branch" a recent book that examines earmarking and other practices.

Uh, yeah. What he said.


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posted by Ace at 02:16 PM

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