OCTOBER 02, 2013
Convicted of three felonies, a close friend and political donor of U.S. Senator Harry Reid is going to jail for funneling more than $130,000 in illegal campaign funds to the Nevada Democrat who happens to be the senate majority leader.
The big question is what will happen to Reid, who has been embroiled in a number of corruptions scandals in the last few years. Yet, he remains unscathed and continues abusing the power of a top federal lawmaker to enrich his friends and family. We’ll get into those later, but now let’s look at this latest story involving the senator’s convict pal, Nevada developer Harvey Whittemore.
This week Whittemore, a one-time Nevada power broker and lobbyist, was sentenced to two years in prison for operating the illicit scheme in which he skirted campaign finance laws to fill Reid’s coffers. The wealthy businessman did it by giving money to family members and employees so they could be the official contributors. Whittemore insists he had no idea this was illegal and Reid claims he was “unaware of any potential problems with the money he received.”
Whittemore and Reid go back years and the veteran senator has long used his influence in Washington to help his friend land lucrative deals. In fact, in 2007 a mainstream newspaper reported that for four years Reid used his power as a legislator to help Whittemore clear obstacles for a profitable real estate deal. As the project advanced, the paper reported, “Reid received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Whittemore.” The developer also hired one of Reid’s sons (Leif) as his personal lawyer and then promptly handed the junior Reid the responsibility of negotiating the real estate deal with federal officials. This landed Reid on Judicial Watch’s list of “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.”
In 2006 Reid was also embroiled in another major scandal for taking tens of thousands of dollars from a corrupt Republican lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for mail fraud, conspiracy to bribe public officials and tax evasion. Reid reportedly took more than $30,000 in Abramoff-tainted money in return for his “cooperation” in matters related to Nevada gaming. Judicial Watch investigated the Abramoff scandal and successfully sued the Bush administration for White House visitor logs that show the corrupt lobbyist visited often.
More recently Reid was embroiled in a major influence-peddling scandal involving a Chinese “green energy” client (ENN) of the Nevada law firm headed by his son Rory. Here is an excerpt from a national wire service story published in August 2012: “Reid has been one of the project’s most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on behalf of the project in Nevada. His son, a lawyer with a prominent Las Vegas firm that is representing ENN, helped it locate a 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) desert site that it is buying well below appraised value from Clark County, where Rory Reid formerly chaired the county commission.”
“Well below appraised value” is a considerable understatement. The deal Rory Reid put together for the firm his dad brought to town saw ENN purchase the site for just $4.5 million—a mere fraction of separate appraisals that valued the property at $29.6 million and $38.6 million. Even with all of that, however, the project has failed to move forward as rapidly as the Reid gang hoped because there is no market in Nevada for the green energy ENN claims it could produce. The scandal earned the unscrupulous senator another spot on JW’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” in 2012.
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