Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Senate Ethics Committee Rejects Charge Against Reid

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) did not break Senate rules by accepting seats at boxing matches from the Nevada Athletic Commission, the Senate Ethics Committee has ruled.

No doubt, this news will make some on the right unhappy -- it's another case when their spin about how "corrupt" Reid is hasn't stuck.

Reid attended three Las Vegas fights from 2003 to 2005 without paying. At the time, Reid was supporting legislation to create a federal agency to oversee boxing.

Reid defended attending the matches, saying it helped him better understand boxing regulations. He later acknowledged that he created the impression of wrongdoing, and apologized.

Apparently, the committee agreed. Attendance at the matches "was a matter appropriately left to (Reid's) discretion," wrote the committee's chief counsel and staff director, Robert L. Walker.

***

So that's one ethics case down, one to go.

On the other issue, Reid has not yet filed revised financial disclosure forms with the secretary of the Senate to account more fully for a Las Vegas land deal that allowed him to collect $1.1 million for property he hadn't personally owned in three years.

In mid-October, shortly after the AP reported on the 2001 deal, Reid announced plans to revise his financial disclosure forms.

A Reid spokesman said the revised forms have been submitted to the Ethics Committee, and his staff was waiting for signoff from the committee before filing them.

***

The right-wing constantly spins that Reid is "corrupt." (See here, here, here, here, and here ... and there are plenty more.) Radio ranters give him nicknames, like Mark Levin calling him Harry "The Body" Reid.

There's an easy reason for the spin. Republicans have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar an unprecedented number of times during the Bush era. Duke Cunningham, Bob Ney, the Jack Abramoff scandal. And some conservatives desperately want to spread the filth around, to turn a given conversation from "Some Republicans are corrupt" to "Some politicians from both parties are corrupt."

And hey, if the charges against Reid stuck, many Democrats would say, "Throw the bum out." You don't see Democrats -- in Washington or most anywhere else -- defending Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and his freezer of cash. The fact that his district's voters don't want to get on board is an embarrassment.

Although questions on Reid's ethics have gotten significant coverage in the press, the conservative punditry hasn't been happy.

One talking point: Dennis Hastert's ethics questions have gotten more press than Reid's. Damn that liberal media!!! But the spin isn't true. A Lexis-Nexis search conducted in October found, for example, that CNN had devoted 50 times as much coverage to Reid’s case as to Hastert's. By comparison, Fox News had mentioned the Reid land deal nine times, but had brought up the Hastert deal just three.

Just as those spin points aren't true, it's pretty clear that the right-wing claims about Reid's "corrupt" nature are likely untrue, too.

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