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Archive for Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Senate leader took free boxing tickets

May 30, 2006

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— Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.

Reid, D-Nev., took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.

He defended the gifts, saying they would never influence his position on the bill and he was simply trying to learn how his legislation might affect an important home state industry. "Anyone from Nevada would say I'm glad he is there taking care of the state's No. 1 businesses," he said.

"I love the fights anyways, so it wasn't like being punished," added the senator, a former boxer and boxing judge.

Senate ethics rules generally allow lawmakers to accept gifts from federal, state or local governments, but specifically warn against taking such gifts - particularly on multiple occasions - when they might be connected to efforts to influence official actions.

"Senators and Senate staff should be wary of accepting any gift where it appears that the gift is motivated by a desire to reward, influence, or elicit favorable official action," the Senate ethics manual states. It cites the 1990s example of an Oregon lawmaker who took gifts for personal use from a South Carolina state university and its president while that school was trying to influence his official actions.

Several ethics experts said Reid should have paid for the tickets, which were close to the ring and worth between several hundred and several thousand dollars each, to avoid the appearance he was being influenced by gifts.

Two senators who joined Reid for fights with the complimentary tickets took markedly differently steps.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., insisted on paying $1,400 for the tickets he shared with Reid for a 2004 championship fight. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., accepted free tickets to another fight with Reid but already had recused himself from Reid's federal boxing legislation because his father was an executive for a Las Vegas hotel that hosts fights.

Comments

justthefacts 8 years, 6 months ago

Where are all the comments that usually get posted after an article concerning ethical problems?

Linda Endicott 8 years, 6 months ago

I don't think people in congress should accept anything free, from anybody, ever. It's not like they really need it. What, aren't they being paid enough already to pay for their own entertainment and hobbies?

ASBESTOS 8 years, 6 months ago

I want another party, the two we have now are out of touch and CRAZY.

Our options, bad and worse, depending on which oder you find least offensive.

DD2K 8 years, 6 months ago

Back in February, the AP's John Solomon ran a lengthy piece detailing alleged contacts between Jack Abramoff's team at Greenberg Traurig and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). As Josh pointed out, although the article concentrated on the fact that Team Abramoff was lobbying Reid on behalf of sweatshop owners in the Northern Marianas, Solomon failed to note that Reid actually voted against the legislation Abramoff was pushing.{Link- http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/007660.php }

Well, Solomon's new piece purporting to illustrate still more of Reid's ethical improprieties. He's managed to actually make a weaker case than in his last story.

Here's the central allegation:

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing. That sounds pretty bad.

Only, there is an exception for gifts from governmental agencies (like the Nevada Athletic Commission) in the Senate ethics rules. So there is nothing untoward about Reid having accepted the free tickets.

But it would still seem pretty bad if Reid had accepted the tickets and then stumped shamelessly for the commission.

Only, he didn't. As was the case with Abramoff and the Marianas, Reid voted AGAINST the peddler's interest.

If this is the best that months of investigative digging can do on our Senate leader, then I'm confident we're in pretty solid footing. As Josh says, Reid is looking "remarkably incorruptible".

But there's something more at play here. It's clear, thanks to some digging around by Aravosis, that Solomon is either an incompetent reporter or a partisan on an anti-Democratic crusade. His hit pieces on Democrats have left out key facts, as did his reporting on the Plame Affair.

Call me when a reputable reporter digs up some real dirt on Harry Reid. So far, the former Boxer from Nevada who cleared out the mafia from Las Vegas (to huge personal risk) is looking pretty darn good.

The AP should be ashamed of itself for employing such a biased hack. And the papers who run AP articles at face value, without checking sources, should re-think their policies if AP continues to allow people like John Solomon to write article for them.

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