Harry Reid is an excellent Real Estate speculator
Some people are always telling me how Republicans are the corrupt, power hungry criminals whereas Democrats are perfect and clean in all ways.
Sane people realize that people in positions of power become increasingly susceptible to corruption over time. The longer you are in Washington, the more corruptable you are.
Here's the lede:
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years, property deeds show.
Then it really goes downhill:
In the process, Reid did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company, according to records and interviews.
And then there's this:
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.
What does the Senator say?
"Everything I did was transparent," Reid said. "I paid all the taxes. Everything is fully disclosed to the ethics committee and everyone else. As I said, if there is some technical change that the ethics committee wants, I'll be happy to do that."
The senator's aides said no money changed hands in 2001 and that Reid instead got an ownership stake in Brown's company equal to the value of his land. Reid continued to pay taxes on the land and didn't disclose the deal because he considered it a "technical transfer," they said.
They also said they have no documents proving Reid's stake in the company because it was an informal understanding between friends.
Well, that's rather nice. When you're a Senator, you get to have "informal understandings" that lead to million dollar windfalls without any messy taxes or paperwork to deal with. When I have such "informal understandings" they call it tax evasion, collusion, fraud, you know, things like that.
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.
The informalities didn't stop there.
I've known my Dad for that long but if I sold a piece of property and he made seven figures from it and didn't report it to the government do you think they'd be satisfied when I told them "It was all very informal, we've been related for 35 years." Right. Sure.
Kent Cooper, a former Federal Election Commission official who oversaw government disclosure reports for federal candidates for two decades, said Reid's failure to report the 2001 sale and his ties to Brown's company violated Senate rules.
"This is very, very clear," Cooper said. "Whether you make a profit or a loss you've got to put that transaction down so the public, voters, can see exactly what kind of money is moving to or from a member of Congress."
"It is especially disconcerting when you have a member of the leadership, of either party, not putting in the effort to make sure this is a complete and accurate report," said Cooper. "That says something to other members. It says something to the Ethics Committee."
Other parts of the deal - such as the informal handling of property taxes - raise questions about possible gifts or income reportable to Congress and the IRS, ethics experts said.
Surely this is just a misunderstanding. Not an attempt to hide earnings and avoid taxes.
Nevada land deeds show Reid and his wife first bought the property in January 1998 in a proposed subdivision created partly with federal lands transferred by the Interior Department to private developers.
Reid's two lots were never owned by the government, but the piece of land joining Reid's property to the street corner - a key to the shopping center deal - came from the government in 1994.
One of the sellers was Fred Lessman, a vice president of land acquisition at Perma-Bilt Homes.
Around the time of the 1998 sale, Lessman and his company were completing a complicated federal land transfer that also involved an Arizona-based developer named Del Webb Corp.
In the deal, Del Webb and Perma-Bilt purchased environmentally sensitive lands in the Lake Tahoe area, transferred them to the government and then got in exchange several pieces of valuable Las Vegas land.
Lessman was personally involved, writing a March 1997 letter to Interior lobbying for the deal. "This exchange has been through many trials and tribulations ... we do not need to create any more stumbling blocks," Lessman wrote.
For years, Reid also had been encouraging Interior to make land swaps on behalf of Del Webb, where one of his former aides worked.
In 1994, Reid wrote a letter with other Nevada lawmakers on behalf of Del Webb, and then met personally with a top federal land official in Nevada. That official claimed in media reports he felt pressured by the senator. Reid denied any pressure.
The next year, Reid collected $18,000 in political donations from Del Webb's political action committee and employees. Del Webb's efforts to get federal land dragged on.
In December 1996, Reid wrote a second letter on behalf of Del Webb, urging Interior to answer the company's concerns. The deal came together in summer and fall 1997, with Perma-Bilt joining in.
In January 1998 - just days before he bought his land - Reid applauded the Lake Tahoe land transfers, saying they would create the "gateway to paradise."
So, the Senator arranges for land swaps to get his hands on environmentally protected federal land then pressures the zoning board to remove the environmental restrictions so he can have his corner lot and increases the value of the lot immensely.
Then, he pressures Nevada lawmakers and other top officials to benefit a company that employs a former aide who, in turn for that pressure, donates $18,000 and buys himself another pressure letter to the Department of the Interior.
Since guilt by association is so popular (see; Abramhoff, Jack) what about Mr. Brown? Surely he's just an honest businessman trying to make a land deal right? This is his first brush with the law, surely.
Brown's name has surfaced in federal investigations involving organized crime, casinos and political bribery since the 1980s.
This past summer, federal prosecutors introduced testimony at the bribery trial of former Clark County Commission chairman Dario Herrera that Brown had taken money from a Las Vegas strip club owner to influence the commission. Herrera was convicted of taking kickbacks. Brown was never called as a witness.
Keep voting Democrat! WooHoo! Everything is just fine!