Harry Reid says that his defense of Sheldon Adelson’s spending in politics has been misunderstood. He told Buzzfeed:
Exactly what I said, is that Sheldon Adelson is great on all social issues, that’s what I said. I didn’t talk about him any more. I didn’t praise Adelson, I just said on social issues he’s good. The point is this: We can speculate who is my favorite billionaire and everyone else can, but the point is, there’s too much money in politics. I’ve seen a change, I’ve seen a change that is really not good.
Here is what Reid actually said in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd when Todd asked him what made the Kochs’ involvement in politics any more worrisome than that of a number of rich businessmen, such as Sheldon Adelson:
I know Sheldon Adelson. He’s not in this for money. He’s got — he did not [unintelligible] money. He’s in it because he has certain ideological views. Now, Sheldon Adelson’s social views are in keeping with the Democrats on choice, on all kinds of things. He just got a beef with — organized labor a few years ago. And he previously was a Democrat. So, Sheldon Adelson, don’t pick on him. He’s not in it to make money.
Reid didn’t just express approval of Adelson’s views on social issues. He said his motives for spending large amounts of money in political campaigns were not self-interested and aligned with Reid’s views and were hence not objectionable. He tried to draw the same distinction Democrats often do between the nefarious “dark money” that goes toward causes Republicans support and the massive amounts of money spent by people like Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg to influence politics in the direction liberals like. That’s not ever a principled position, but Reid admitted that it wasn’t in an unusually forthright way. Which is why he’s now pretending that he didn’t.
In his interview with Buzzfeed, Reid also had a warning for the Kochs: “I’m going to be on their tail for the whole campaign because if they think Romney was watched closely by me, that’s nothing compared to what it’s going to be like with the Koch brothers.” Given Reid’s track record during the Romney campaign, anyone who expected the senator to stop lying any time soon will be disappointed.