About That Double-Edged Weapon

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There have been so many, but the "Culture of Corruption" one was one I took exception to early on. I warned how badly that could backfire. That was before Jefferson's cold hard cash problem came to light. It now seems that there's yet another small problem with that theme.

Harry Reid.

The focus of the AP's report is on the fact that Reid mis-reported the transactions in his Senate financial disclosure forms. He made the original investment personally, but transferred his land to a limited liability corportation in 2001, without reporting that transfer. It was actually the LLC that sold the land in 2004, but Reid reported the transaction as if it had been a personal sale of the land he bought in 1998.

Substantively, what happened is that Reid did this real estate deal with a friend named Jay Brown, a Las Vegas lawyer whom the AP describes as follows:

Jay Brown, a longtime friend and former casino lawyer whose name surfaced in a major political bribery trial this summer and in other prior organized crime investigations.

It looks like Brown did all the work and cut his friend Reid in on the deal. The AP report contains no evidence that there was anything crooked about the transactions themselves, although they apparently were never documented. Basically, the partners bought land that was zoned for residential use, and persuaded local authorities to change the zoning to commercial, then sold out to developers who put up a shopping center. Brown obtained the re-zoning in part by emphasizing Reid's participation in the deal.

Is there anything wrong with this? Not necessarily. You can make easy money by buying land on the outskirts of a fast-growing town like Las Vegas. It helps if you have the influence to get zoning changed, but, to be fair, there's nothing wrong with re-zoning land to permit commercial development as a community grows outward.

It does appear, though, that Reid clearly violated Senate ethics rules by failing to disclose the existence of the LLC and his partnership with Brown. He reported the income, but not the relationship. I suspect the reason for Reid's reticence is explained by the AP's description of his friend's history.

Is this timing questionable? Sure. It would seem pretty fortuitous that this suddenly sees print this close to the election. But that was always the danger of this sort of game in the first place. This really is the worst campaign season I can remember for this sort of thing, though. This one is arguably about Reid in particular and not a vehicle to strike at the whole party as the Foley matter is being played.

UPDATE: Others: Outside the Beltway, Balloon Juice, Hang Right Politics, Olberman Watch, Don Surber, Jawa Report, Riehl World View, Clayton Cramer,

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5 Responses to About That Double-Edged Weapon

  1. Thanks for the link.

    Kinda makes the dems culture of corruption a dead issue!!

  2. Gaius says:

    It kind of shows a pretty ham-handed approach to politics and a major tin ear, doesn’t it?

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  4. jpe says:

    It looks like Brown did all the work and cut his friend Reid in on the deal.

    This tells us that the Powerline folks don’t understand business. Not surprising; they’re lawyers, after all, and out of their element. Reid got an interest in the LLC identical to the property. It wasn’t a sale, but a capital contribution.

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