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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Harry Reid Can Run, But He Cannot Hide

This land deal story broke two days ago, and I have been skeptical to even touch it. (Yes, I am studying to be a lawyer, but I do not know the first thing about real estate law; I honestly do not know if he broke the law. The deal appears to be shady from an ethical point-of-view.--Marcie) Hugh Hewitt put out the call yesterday for bloggers to begin the "forensic" digging.

And thus it has begun:

The WaPo put this story on page A28.

The Philadelphia Inquirer did an op-ed telling Sen. Reid to practice what he preaches.

The New York Times even stepped up to cover this. (You have to dig through a lot of Foley related garbage to locate the ONE small story they did, and the headline reads "Senator Offers To Amend Financial Forms."--Marcie) And in typical Times' fashion, this is how their story ends:

Mr. Reid’s spokesman, Jim Manley, suggested that Republican Party strategists were behind the accusations of potential ethics violations in the land deal.

“Desperate to get their scandals off the front page,” Mr. Manley said, “the Republican Party is once again trying to smear
Democrats. The fact is Senator Reid owned the land from 1998 to 2004, and he fully disclosed that fact.”

Another op-ed courtesy of The Oklahoman.

Yes, yes. It is all the "evil" Republicans fault that Harry Reid completely failed to disclose, to the fullest extent, the details of this land deal. (Oh, and there is nary a question regarding the deal from the Times. They are taking Harry "Duke Greed" Reid at his word.--Marcie)

And that about wraps it up for the MSM. Of course this should come as no surprise to anyone. I am actually surprised that the above news outlets even touched on it. But the call went out to bloggers, and a few have responded to it:

And of those bloggers, The Strata-Sphere is right at the top of this. Hugh points out the initial report, but I would like to bring the update to everyone's attention:

Update:Folks, head to the comments section where long time reader SBD is working his usual magic and posting multiple real estate transactions with one Harry Reid regarding properties in NV and buyers/sellers from all over (including my home town of McLean VA). I wonder how many of these reports made it accurately into the public record? Someone at AT seems to have found some answers. - End Update

And why is that important? Senator Reid's only defense is that he failed to disclose this information properly. Hugh said yestersday that these forms are not difficult to understand and fill out. If these other transactions were as shady and below-the-radar as this one, then this is no longer a simple mistake. This was a concerted effort to cover this up from the Ethics Committee and the FEC.

Hugh adds more fuel to the fire here with questions for the Clark County, NV Commission. Seems that a couple of Reid cronies were involved in helping him with this deal and others. Then, he follows up with questions the MSM should be asking Senator Reid regarding this matter.

I know there are a lot of people out there that believe that what Senator Reid did was illegal. That remains to be seen. Roger Schlesinger of Manhattan West was asked to come on hugh's show yesterday and talk about it. He admitted that without more facts regarding the land's sale or turnover, he could not fully comment on the legality of the deal. He did state that this could be a violation of the Ethics Committee's rules, but again more information needed to come out.

Well, I am looking at the link that the Strata-Sphere offered. It is to The American Thinker, which has this gas in reserve for the bonfire that is slowly turning into a conflagration:

The current inattention Harry Reid is receiving from the MSM regarding his shady land deals prompted me to enter his name at Google. Very interesting info out there on Dingy Harry. For instance, at Political Gateway you can read a Steve Bowers column “The Log In Harry Reid’s Eyes” about his pushing through the innocuous-sounding 2002 legislation titled the ” Clark County (Nevada) Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act.”

Averring that it was bi-partisan bill, Sen. Reid failed to note that it

“promised a cavalcade of benefits to real estate developers, corporations and local institutions (who paid) thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his (Reid’s) sons and son-in-laws firms, federal lobbyists reports show.”

The Bowers column also contains a link to an LA Times
article which takes a critical look at Reid’s numerous land deals. Specifically, it lists six instances where the senator sponsored legislation regarding federal land swaps, annexations, transfers and easements that benefitted his special interest buddies, his sons and son-in-law. There’s a lot more where this came from, including muzzling a Nevada media outlet that dared run commentary critical of Reid in 1998. John B. Dwyer 10 12 06

Shady deals? "Muzzling" media outlets critical of him and his dealings? Special interests benefitting from his legislation? This may be politics as usual for those in Washington, DC, and even those in Nevada, but for Harry "Duke Greed" Reid, this is a pot-calling-the-kettle-black moment.

Do we need a memory jog on his statements from earlier this year over the Abramoff scandal? The following press release was dug up by Hugh yesterday and it exhibits all the arrogance that Harry Reid can muster:

“The idea of Republicans reforming themselves is like asking John Gotti to clean up organized crime. I thought I’d seen the last of corruption when I helped clean up Las Vegas thirty years ago. But, while its not quite the mafia of Las Vegas in the 1970s, what is happening today in Washington is every bit as corrupt and the consequences for our country have been just as severe.

“Some problems have no legislative fix, and the Republican culture of corruption is one of them. Today’s announcements by House and Senate Republicans should be taken at face value – minor wrist slapping and good public relation stunts by the same people responsible for this mess. Democrats will lead the tough reforms, because we owe it to the American people to stand up for their interests over special interests. Are we really going to believe that Republicans will stop answering the calls from their friends on K Street? Are they really going to put seniors ahead of drug companies when it comes reforming Medicare? Are they really going to help families over oil companies when it comes to gas prices? The answer to these questions is no, and that’s why the American people trust Democrats to clean up Washington and put their interests first.”

Talking points aside, is Senator Reid going to quit taking those calls from his Nevada cronies to help them get their business deals off the ground? Is he going to come clean about ALL the seemingly-crooked deals he has been a part of, or helped to get pushed through the Nevada state commissions?

And here is the AP's refresher for those who missed the original story when it broke on Wednesday:

Land deeds obtained by The Associated Press during a review of Reid's business dealings show:

--The deal began in 1998 when Reid bought undeveloped residential property on Las Vegas' booming outskirts for about $400,000. Reid bought one lot outright, and a second parcel jointly with Brown. One of the sellers was a developer who was benefiting from a government land swap that Reid supported. The seller never talked to Reid.

--In 2001, Reid sold the land for the same price to a limited liability corporation created by Brown. The senator didn't disclose the sale on his annual public ethics report or tell Congress he had any stake in Brown's company. He continued to report to Congress that he personally owned the land.

--After getting local officials to rezone the property for a shopping center, Brown's company sold the land in 2004 to other developers and Reid took $1.1 million of the proceeds, nearly tripling the senator's investment. Reid reported it to Congress as a personal land sale.

The complex dealings allowed Reid to transfer ownership, legal liability and some tax consequences to Brown's company without public knowledge, but still collect a seven-figure payoff nearly three years later.

Reid hung up the phone when questioned about the deal during an AP interview last week.

This deal was kept hidden from his records. As a matter of fact, it was kept hidden completely, according to the AP's report:

Despite the sale, Reid continued to report on his public ethics reports that he personally owned the land until it was sold again in His disclosure forms to Congress do not mention an interest in Patrick Lane or the company's role in the 2004 sale.

AP first learned of the transaction from a former Reid aide who expressed concern the deal hadn't been properly reported.

Reid isn't listed anywhere on Patrick Lane's corporate filings with Nevada, even though the land he sold accounted for three-quarters of the company's assets. Brown is listed as the company's manager. Reid's office said
Nevada law didn't require Reid to be mentioned in the filings.

"We have been friends for over 35 years. We didn't need a written agreement between us," Brown said. ...

... Brown sometimes paid a share of the local property taxes on the lot Reid owned outright between 1998 and 2001, while Reid sometimes paid more than his share of taxes on the second parcel they co-owned.

And the two men continued to pay the property taxes from their personal checking accounts even after the land was sold to Patrick Lane in 2001, records show.

Brown said Reid first approached him in 1997 about land purchases and the two men considered the two lots a single investment.

"During the years of ownership, there may have been occasions that he advanced the property taxes, or that I advanced the property taxes," Brown said. "The bottom line is that between ourselves we always settled up and each of us paid our respective percentages."

Ultimately, Reid paid about 74 percent of the property taxes, slightly less than his actual 75.1 ownership stake, according to canceled checks kept at the local assessor's office. One year, the property tax payments were delinquent and resulted in a small penalty, the records show.

Ethics experts said such informality raises questions about whether any of Brown's tax payments amounted to a benefit for Reid. "It might be a gift," Cooper said. ...

Again, it should be stressed that while this may have been legal, which thus far appears to be the case, the question is did he violate any Ethics rules involved in this sort of a deal. Failing to disclose something like this, especially when the rules specifically state that you must, is a breach. And while the punishment for such things might be light--a wrist-slap, and such--it kills the "culture of corruption" charges that Senator Reid and the Democrats are attempting to hang Republicans on.



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