Scandals in Government aren’t limited to IRS targeting, violation of First Amendment rights by the Obama administration, or Benghazigate. On May 29, one of Harry Reid’s closest Nevada friends was convicted of making illegal campaign contributions to “Friends of Harry Reid”, the Senator’s campaign fund. A unanimous federal grand jury convicted Harvey Whittemore of “making excessive campaign contributions, making contributions in the name of another and causing a false statement to be made to the Federal Election Commission.”
“These laws exist to protect the election process from undue influence and provide transparency to the voting public,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Myhre said.
Whittemore, faces 15 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. However, three felony convictions do not automatically remove Whittemore’s license to practice law.
“I appreciate the Whittemore family,” Reid said shortly before the verdict. “Over the years, they have helped me and I appreciate it very, very much. I’m sorry this problem has arisen… I think they are wonderful people.”
Whittemore gave $5,000 gifts or bonuses to 29 family members, employees and their spouses who each wrote checks to Reid’s campaign for $4600 at Whittemore’s suggestion. Whittemore promised Reid the money at a February 2007 meeting. “I received $25 million. He raised $150,000,” Reid implied it was a small amount, yet upon receiving the donation, Reid sent an FBI authenticated thank you note, “Harvey, you’re a man of your word” and “You are a true friend now and for all days.”
Was the $150,000 a payback? A 2006 LA Times article revealed deals netting Reid $700,000 from selling land he did not own and payments from lobbyists (including Jack Abramoff and Harvey Whittemore). Harry’s son, Leif Reid, negotiated for Whittemore with federal officials reportedly calling his father’s office to discuss the permits. When asked about the deal, Harry Reid responded: “It said a guy years ago had a dream, Harvey Whittemore, and he’s building a city in the desert … Why would anyone not want to help with this?”
In an earlier blog I quoted from the 2010 Senatorial debate, where I asked Senator Reid, “You came from Searchlight to the Senate with very little. Now you’re one of the richest men in the U.S. Senate. And on behalf of Nevada taxpayers we’d like to know, how did you become so wealthy on a government payroll?”
“I live on a fixed income,” Reid answered. Does Reid pass the smell test or just raise more questions? Does that “fixed income” lead to the financial go-to-guy for Nevada candidates running for everything from county commission to U.S. Congress, aka Harvey Whittemore? Was it the likes of Harvey Whittemore who were “fixing” Senator Reid’s income?
Does “the fix” go deeper? Just after the Whittemore indictment, St. George, UT businessman, Jeremy Johnson, accused Utah Attorney General Swallow of brokering a $600,000 deal in 2010 with Senator Reid to make a federal lawsuit “go away.” Johnson provided dozens of emails, two financial records, photos and a transcript to support his allegations.
Who else owes Reid? Would candidate campaign reports containing the name “Whittemore” be revealing?
Was Columnist Sherman Frederick’s right when he joked, “Harry Reid takes bribes all the time…That’s how he’s gotten so rich on a senator’s salary.”