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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Compare Tom Delay to Harry Reid

The media is having a field day with Tom Delay these days. If you have seen the news or read a paper the past few days, you have heard "Delay" and "ethics violations" or "scandal" at least a dozen times. The supposed violations consist of a trip to Russia paid by business interests in 1997 and Delay's wife and daughter being paid by political action and campaign committees.

What most people don't realize is that many members of Congress have family members working for political campaigns or lobbying firms. Let's look at just one prominent example: Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid:

According to a 2003 LA Times article:

The Howard Hughes Corp. alone paid $300,000 to the tiny Washington consulting firm of [Harry Reid's] son-in-law Steven Barringer to push a provision allowing the company to acquire 998 acres of federal land ripe for development in the exploding Las Vegas metropolitan area.

Barringer is listed in federal lobbyist reports as one of Hughes' representatives on the measure that his father-in-law introduced.

Other provisions were intended to benefit a real estate development headed by a senior partner in the Nevada law firm that employs all four of Reid's sons — by moving the right-of-way for a federal power-transmission line off his property and onto what had been protected federal wilderness.

The governments of three of Nevada's biggest cities — Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson — also gained from the legislation, which freed up tens of thousands of acres of federal land for development and annexation. All three were represented by Reid's family members who contacted his staff on their clients' behalf.

And if you want to get Reid's take on having family members work behind the scenes for a member of Congress, just listen to his own words:

"Lots of people have children, wives and stuff that work back here," he said. "It is not as if a lot of cash is changing hands."

In the last four years alone, their [Reid family members'] firms have collected more than $2 million in lobbying fees from special interests that were represented by the kids and helped by the senator in Washington.

So pervasive are the ties among Reid, members of his family and Nevada's leading industries and institutions that it's difficult to find a significant field in which such a relationship does not exist.

Somehow I haven't heard a single mention of Harry Reid's "ethics violations" over the past week.