Senator Harry Reid (D., Nev.), the topic of Rich’s column today, has a history of making dubious claims. When the Democrat made his first bid for U.S. Senate, Reid lodged a number of unsubstantiated claims against his GOP opponent, Paul Laxalt.
Reid used the ethics card against Laxalt by questioning the former governor’s ties to billionaire Howard Hughes, who bought up casino properties on the Strip and spread his money around during Laxalt’s term.
Reid challenged Laxalt to reveal his own and his family’s finances to show exactly how he paid $7.5 million for the Ormsby House hotel-casino in Carson City.
Reid said he wanted to clear up the “Ormsby House mystery.”
“Any man or woman who will not be completely candid about his or her finances does not deserve to be in public office,” Reid said, according to an Associated Press report out of Reno.
Reid said there were years Laxalt had paid no income taxes and people should know why. In response, Laxalt said heavy investments in the Ormsby House exempted him from tax liability in 1972 and 1973.
Reid, then a 34-year-old lieutenant governor and lawyer, said his financial worth was $305,292.
Laxalt, then 52, revealed his net worth was about $200,000 with the exception of his interest in the Ormsby House. He also attempted to show he had not profited as governor. He said his net worth in December 1961 was $167,000 and, when he left the governor’s office in 1970, that figure had dropped to $102,000.
Reid, a former boxer growing up, continued to pound Laxalt on his finances, thinking he could corner him. The tactics didn’t work and Laxalt won the race against the younger aggressor.
More than three decades later, Reid said in his 2008 biography, “The Good Fight,” that he regretted his actions.
“Laxalt had relaxed the (gaming) licensing requirements for Hughes and I suspected that Hughes had in turn feathered Laxalt’s nest,” Reid wrote. “I made a real stink about it, insisting that Laxalt’s whole family disclose their finances. To my embarrassment, Laxalt complied.”
If Reid regrets making claims without substantial evidence then, why does he do so now?