Bench Memos

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Lightweight Harry Reid, Corruption, and Jack Abramoff


Surprise, surprise.  Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, who pressed the silly Vanguard ethics charges against Samuel Alito and who has called Terry Boyle’s apparent inadvertent violation of hyperprotective rules the “clincher” against his nomination to the Fourth Circuit, has some genuinely serious ethics issues of his own.  Today’s Washington Post reports two sets of charges.


First, Reid accepted ringside seats from the Nevada Athletic Commission for three boxing matches at a time when the commission was “trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.”  The seats were “worth between several hundred and several thousand dollars each.”  The Senate ethics manual warns against “accepting any gift where it appears that the gift is motivated by a desire to reward, influence, or elicit favorable action.”  Reid’s lame defense:  He was (in the Post’s paraphrase) “simply trying to learn how his legislation might affect an important home state industry.”  What sense does that make?

Second, in apparent violation of the same ethics provision, Reid took “several actions benefiting former lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s [tribal] clients and partners as they donated to him.”  Reid also sponsored a bill to give $100,000 to another tribe represented by Abramoff.  Reid’s explanation:  “he sponsored the provision because Louisiana lawmakers sent him a letter requesting it.”  Ah, yes, I’m sure that Reid routinely does whatever Louisiana lawmakers request.

Tags: Whelan


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