Harry Reid and the culture of corruption Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, February 04, 2007
Investors Business Daily has an article on the latest land deal that Senate Majority Harry Reid has been involved in, and it isn't particularly flattering:
Harry Reid's skill at making money in real estate makes Donald Trump look like an apprentice. If he ever writes his autobiography, it should be called "The Art of the Shady Deal."
If you accept Harry Reid's explanation that his most recent land deal is on the square, then he has a bridge to sell you. No, not that bridge. Another bridge built over the Colorado River a few miles from property in northern Arizona he bought at about $167 an acre. He doesn't own that bridge, either.
But he has sold land he did not own at the time he sold it before.
In 2002, Reid paid $10,000 to a pension controlled by longtime friend and Las Vegas lubricants dealer Clair Haycock. In return, Reid got full control over the fund's portion of a 160-acre parcel in Bullhead City, Ariz., a 37.5% share. Reid and Haycock jointly owned the entire parcel for more than 20 years.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, "Reid's price for the equivalent of 60 acres of undeveloped desert was less than one-tenth the value the assessor placed on it at the time." According to the Times, "If Reid were to sell the property for any of the various estimates of its value, his gain on the $10,000 investment could range from $50,000 to $290,000."
See the name "Haycock?" Remember it.
Here's the payoff, no pun intended:
A few months after Reid bought the 60-acre section for one-ninth what Haycock and Reid paid for it 25 years earlier, Reid introduced legislation that would have benefited Haycock by preventing oil companies from abruptly ending contracts with lubricant dealers. It doesn't take the proverbial rocket scientist, or even a Nancy Pelosi, to connect those dots.
No, it really doesn't. And, in fact, Reid tried several times to get that legislation passed:
In 1994, on the first attempt, he complained on the Senate floor that it was "grossly unfair" that a constituent's "franchise agreement to sell lubricating oils to car dealers in Las Vegas was arbitrarily canceled with 30 days notice."
He repeated this again in 2002 and 2003, when he resubmitted the legislation. Haycock was not just any constituent, but a business partner who had a financial interest in the bill while helping Reid make a tidy profit on jointly owned land.
But, as they say on Ronco commercials, "but wait, there's more":
Of course, Reid is not against legislation benefiting himself either. In 2005, a huge $286 billion federal transportation bill contained a tidy bit of pork that Reid said in a news release was "incredibly good news for Nevada." He didn't announce how he would financially benefit from it.
That pork took the form of $18 million for funding connecting Laughlin, Nev., with Bullhead City, not far from his investment property. Frank Capotosto of the Mohave County assessor's office noted, "Once they build (that) bridge, values will go up."
You don't say ... how lucky is that, eh?
But "Sen. Reid's support for the bridge has absolutely nothing to do with property he owns," says his communications director, Rebecca Kirszner. "Sen. Reid supported this project as part of his continuing efforts to move Nevada forward." Right.
Heh ... as you can see IBD isn't buying and, frankly, neither am I.
Too pat, too convenient and very telling when a Senator repeatedly tries to use the power of government to restrict private transactions because common commercial practice may not favor a "constituent" who happens to also be a business partner. The bridge just happens to cross the Colorado river near a property owned by Reid and is apparently financed by a Reid earmark to the Transportation bill.
You've heard of earmarks, right? Those things Harry Reid swore to take care of?
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.
What in the world happened to the lecture Mr. Reid gave everyone about the "perception of wrongdoing" being nominally just as bad as actual wrongdoing? But more importantly, is this deal really just about perception?
That Reid had tried for several years to pass the pro-lubricants bill prior to the deal strongly undercuts the quid-pro-quo allegation. Omit that history, and the case against Reid on that charge is very strong.
How else do you expect these underpaid and overworked public servants to make ends meet? If only an ungrateful and penurious public would give them the pay and perks they deserve, they would not have to dirty their hands by engaging in commerce, like some grubby little tradesman. Anyway, he is only doing it for his children.
Oh, Harry finds other ways to help his children (or their spouses). He gets them jobs with lobbying firms.
As a Nevada resident, Reid has always struck me as someone who has been propelled a bit farther inlife than he had planned. If he were just some nondescript Senator from a small western state, these revelations wouldn’t make The Times. But somehow he managed to become Senate Majority Leader and the spotlight has intensified a few thousand watts.
We could say it is the fault of the Democrats.We could say, too, it is the fault of Capitalism. But we would perhaps be closer to the truth if we said it is the fault of being human, since corruption etc exists, a;lways, in any form of governance—communism, democracy, socialism, etc etc
So root out that which is illegal and press chanrcges. But don’t get all worked up when the law is not borken and someone uses [osition and the law to enrich him self. Or ask how you handle your personal in come taxes when it is tax time.
The law is not borken? The spirit is. Senate rules are. How do I handle my personal in come(?) taxes when its tax time? Well since the gov confiscates my money every two weeks to pay my taxes in advance (which is why we dont have a tax revolt every 4/15) I usually only owe around $100. I pay it. Why? What do you do?
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California sought to distinguish her party’s foibles from the scandals that brought down Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., for bribery and three former Republican congressional aides who had ties to ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff, a Republican, pleaded guilty in January to corruption charges.
"You’re talking about two completely different things," Pelosi said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. The Democratic ethics cases are "individual challenges that those people will have to deal with," she said, noting that she has called for the House ethics committee to investigate Jefferson. Republicans, she charged, have a system of "corruption, cronyism and incompetence" that goes beyond personal indiscretions.
Pelosi who derives her family income from Napa Valley vineyards, an upscale restaurant chain and a spa/hotel, has some ’splainin’ to do herself:
1. She supports "Livable Wage" measures—does she pay her employees a "living wage"?
2. She believes in unions, why doesn’t she push her members to join a union?
3. She believes Wal Mart is a bad company for not providing every temporary worker or intern with world class health insurance—does she provide her workers with the same health care coverage she gets as a member of Congress?
4. Since she is a promoter of the concept of Global Warming, I presume she has no gas or diesel generated machines in her vineyards—she should not be part of the problem. What pestcides are used and are workers applying them properly certified and protected?
5. Does Pelosi take any Federal Agriculture funds to grow or not to grow in her vineyards?
6. Does she check to see if illegal aliens are working for her at the vineyards? does she call the appropriate agency and check the documents and Social Security cards? How about the busboys, kitchen staff and hotel maids?
Anyone who has lived in Sonoma or Napa counties knows prefectly well not a drop of wine would be made without illegal workers. One would think that unions would be howling, but of course they know the reality of agriculture in California.