The seemingly Teflon senior senator from Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, has been forced to respond to charges made in aÂ two-part investigationÂ into his dealings published last week at RealClearPolitics. The initial investigation looked into multiple claims of corruption, and responses from Reidâ€™s PR people failed to deflect them.
Adam Oâ€™Neal led off with a relatively innocuous charge that in 2012 and 2013 Reidâ€™s campaign staff spent some $30,000 buying appreciation gifts for his donors from a store owned by his granddaughter. It was a small thing: The amount spent by his staff was seven times more than the staff spent elsewhere, combined. In the past such charges would have met apathy from Reid, who simply ignored them and passed them off. Reid was willing to let time go by and memories fade. Not this time, apparently â€” Reidâ€™s staff said that to avoid the appearance of impropriety, Reid would pay those bills out of his own pocket. He tried to ingratiate himself at the time, saying that he was glad he could afford to write the check.
He certainly could.
Arriving in Washington in 1983 as Nevadaâ€™s only representative, Reid declared a net worth of about $1 million. At the latest count, he estimates his net worth at 10 times that, if not more. Since much of his portfolio is in real estate, estimates may vary with circumstances and timing and political maneuvering.
Oâ€™Neal pointed out that over the years â€” especially since Reid became Senate majority leader in 2007 â€” he has built â€œa dizzying network of mutually beneficial political, personal and business alliances. These associations benefit Reid, his family, his close friends and, very often, the state.â€
Reid has a veritable coterie of investigative journalists making a good living following him around and writing about that network. One of them is David Damore, a professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, who put it more succinctly: “Iâ€™m going to put this politely. Their personal interests, they seem to see, represent the common good. They donâ€™t differentiate those two.”
Translation: Whatâ€™s good for Reid is (or may be) good for Nevada. Whatâ€™s good for Reid is always good for his donors and his family.
In part one of his report, Oâ€™Neal asked rhetorically:
How did Reid manage to grow his net worth so significantly while raising a large family, on a public officialâ€™s salary and incurring the expenses associated with maintaining two residences on opposite sides of the country?
Oâ€™Nealâ€™s answers illustrate just how much influence Nevadaâ€™s senior senator has among his donors, who are only too happy to invite him to participate in their ventures. For example, in 1998, Reid joined partner Jay Brown in investing $400,000 in some dirt located on the outskirts of Las Vegas. By 2004, the property just happened to be rezoned for a shopping center and Reid cashed in for $1.1 million.