Harry Reid, who became a multi-millionaire over the course of his many decades as an elected and appointed public servant, never seems to run out of schemes to avoid spending that wealth when he can instead tap other sources of funds as if they were his own personal slush funds.
His latest example of parsimony is his request to the Federal Election Commission to allow him to tap $600,000 in campaign and political action committee donations to use to cover his expenses after he steps down as Nevada’s senior senator next year.
Though there is no provision for such a request under law, Democrats argue Reid should get special treatment because of his longtime leadership role in the Senate.
Democratic Chairwoman Ann Ravel, according to the Washington Examiner, said Reid deserves the special dispensation as the “appropriate mechanism for a person who will continue to be doing a public service as a historic figure in our country, to achieve purposes that are important to the American public.”
FEC Commissioner Lee E. Goodman questioned the propriety of the request and the precedent it might set.
“I mean, how do we draw that line? We think you were important enough to walk away with an administrative slush fund. We don’t think you were important enough,” Goodman was quoted as saying. “And the fact that many members of Congress choose to do this and choose to do it at the expense of think tanks, nonprofits shows that there are many other ways to fund this choice after you leave office, but it is not necessitated by your former service or your former candidate status.”
Reid has a penchant for penny pinching by plumbing campaign funds for personal use.
One year he was caught using campaign funds to pay Christmas bonuses to the staff at the Ritz Carlton where he lives in D.C.
The FEC concluded that the paltry $3,300 was too petty to deal with, but Reid later repaid the fund, after The Associated Press reported on it, though Reid still argued it was a legitimate expense.
Then there was the $31,249 in campaign funds that Reid spent over two years to buy trinkets from a “Ryan Elisabeth” to give to donors and staffers. That turned out to be Ryan Elisabeth Reid, one of his granddaughters.
Of course, it might not be Reid’s fault that one of his campaign donors served prison time for fraudulently bundling donations for Reid.
And why should Reid spend his own money when there are so many willing to help out. Like the time the Nevada Athletic Commission gave him free ringside tickets to professional boxing matches at the same time legislation was pending in Congress that would have created a federal oversight of boxing that would usurp the Nevada panel’s powers.
The FEC is expected to act on Reid’s slush fund request later this month.
We think it is high time Reid learns how to spend his own accumulated wealth.
A version of this editorial appears this past week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.
“Unfortunately, it appears that the recusal of two commissioners and the circulation of four drafts makes reaching the required four votes on this straightforward legal question impossible. Thus, rather than waste further Commission and private resources, we simply proceed with past advisory opinions on the subject. …
“We note the zeal some commissioners appear to have found for embracing an expansive view of regulation in this matter. This is a Commission that held that the phrase ‘Barack Obama’s liberal policies are bad for America’ does not ‘oppose’ or ‘attack’ a federal candidate; that a millionaire ferrying a group of donors by private plane to a phone-a-thon at the invitation of a federal campaign was not doing so ‘of behalf of’ said campaign; and that a billionaire donor’s ‘insist[ence] on parceling out his money project by project’ was insufficient to investigate whether the donor was the source of funding behind a particular communication. Indeed, we can only recall one other time that such a broad regulatory impulse seemed to take hold of the Commission in a response to a routine advisory opinion request.”