Post by Tom Morrow
SO you admit what DeLay has done is wrong.
Thanks for playing, douchebag.
So you admit Pelosi & Reid are criminals. Thanks for playing Sphincter
FEC Fines Pelosi Committees as Result ot NLPC Complaint;
Hypocrisy of "Reformer" Exposed
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has fined two leadership PACs
associated with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in response to a
Complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) on October
25, 2002. The FEC also has fined three campaigns that failed to return
excessive contributions from Pelosi's PACs within 60 days, as required by
Under conciliation agreements reached with the FEC, Pelosi's two
committees - PAC to the Future and Team Majority - will pay $21,000. Julie
Thomas for Congress Campaign Committee (D-IA) and Van Hollen for Congress
(D-MD) will each pay $2,500, and Joe Turnham for Congress (D-AL) will pay
$2,000. The three campaigns also agreed to disgorge $5,000 each to the U.S.
In its Complaint, NLPC alleged that Pelosi violated federal election law by
operating two "leadership" political action committees (PACs) in order to
circumvent contribution limits. Members of the Democrat and Republican
leaderships in the House and Senate may legally have one so-called
leadership PAC in addition to their own campaign committee. The purpose of
leadership PACs is to make contributions to the campaigns of other
NLPC's Complaint cited a second circumvention of the law, that of the limits
on amounts donors may give to PACs. Team Majority, the newer PAC, reported
sixteen contributions of $5,000 each from donors who also gave the maximum
to Pelosi's other PAC. Five of the donors gave to both PACs on the same day.
NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm reacted by stating, "We are delighted that the FEC
has acted favorably on our Complaint. No member of Congress has ever set up
a second leadership PAC to evade contribution limits. Pelosi has been caught
violating the clearest and most basic law of all, the limits on
contributions. Talk about hypocrisy."
Within twenty-four hours of NLPC's Complaint, Pelosi announced she would
shut down Team Majority and retrieve contributions already made to
candidates. The PAC made thirty-six contributions to candidates in the
amount of $5,000, the legal limit. Her surviving PAC, which is called PAC to
the Future, distributed $1.7 million to candidates in the 2001-2002 election
Pelosi has been an outspoken advocate of campaign finance reform and
Shays-Meehan, the companion bill to the McCain-Feingold legislation, that
became law. In January 2002, she asserted, "One threat to our Constitution,
indeed to our participatory democracy, is the role of the special interest
money in the political process today."
At an April 2002 kick-off event in San Francisco to the so-called Campaign
Finance Victory Tour, Common Cause President Scott Harshbarger proclaimed,
"The cynics in Washington said we couldn't beat the entrenched power of big
money, and thanks to courageous, independent people like Nancy Pelosi, we
started the job."
Pelosi complained of "extremists in the Republican Party who have repeatedly
tried to undermine campaign finance reform" and of "sneaky tactics employed
by the Republicans" to weaken Shays-Meehan.
Pelosi Gives Twice
Team Majority did not officially exist until October 16, 2002 but had been
raising money since April 2002, and by September 30, 2002 had made donations
to five House and one Senate challenger. Leo McCarthy, the treasurer of both
PACs and the former Lt. Governor of California, candidly admitted to Roll
Call that the "main reason" for setting up the second PAC was to "give twice
as much (sic) hard dollars."
The only defense offered by McCarthy was that he claimed the FEC somehow
approved the improper arrangement in a phone call. He could not, however,
provide the name of the FEC official with whom he allegedly spoke or provide
evidence that such a call occurred. Indeed, it is the FEC's policy that
so-called Advisory Opinions be obtained in writing. McCarthy further
acknowledged that he obtained no legal counsel despite the fact that Pelosi'
s PACs collectively raised over a million dollars.
Pelosi was elected Democratic Whip on November 14, 2002 after Richard
Gephardt (D-MO) announced he would step aside. She was propelled to the post
in part by her ability to raise money for her colleagues. In addition to the
$1.7 million given to Democratic candidates by PAC to the Future, Pelosi
also crisscrossed the country taking part in fundraisers that reportedly
generated over $6 million.
NLPC sponsors the Government Integrity Project. NLPC "blows the whistle" on
government officials and interest groups engaged in questionable activities.
NLPC has filed formal Complaints with a variety of authorities and
regulators, including the FEC, IRS, and Congressional Ethics Committees.
NLPC is strictly non-partisan. Complaints have been filed against Democrats
and Republicans alike.
(This article will appear in the Summer issue of Ethics Watch, NLPC's
THE SENATORS' SONS: PART TWO
In Nevada, Reid Is the Name to Know
Members of one lawmaker's family represent nearly every major industry in
their home state. And their clients rely on his goodwill.
By Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper
Times Staff Writers
June 23, 2003
WASHINGTON - It was the kind of legislation that slips under the radar here.
The name alone made the eyes glaze over: "The Clark County Conservation of
Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002." In a welter of technical
jargon, it dealt with boundary shifts, land trades and other arcane
matters - all in Nevada.
FOR THE RECORD
Lobbyists - A graphic accompanying an article in Monday's Section A on
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's lobbyist relatives incorrectly said that the
University of Nevada at Reno paid $10,000 a month to the Lionel Sawyer &
Collins law firm. In fact, the university paid the firm $40,000 in the last
half of 2002, according to federal lobbyist reports.
As he introduced it, Nevada's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Harry Reid,
assured colleagues that his bill was a bipartisan measure to protect the
environment and help the economy in America's fastest-growing state.
What Reid did not explain was that the bill promised a cavalcade of benefits
to real estate developers, corporations and local institutions that were
paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees to his sons' and
son-in-law's firms, federal lobbyist reports show.
The Howard Hughes Corp. alone paid $300,000 to the tiny Washington
consulting firm of 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.
The Clark County land bill, which was approved in a late-night session just
before Congress recessed in October, reflects a new twist in an old game:
These days, when corporations and other interests want to cement a vital
relationship with someone in Congress, they're likely to reach out to hire a
member of the family.
Reid said he supported the bill because it was good for Nevada - and not
because it helped his family's clients. And when it comes to lobbying
relatives, he said, he has plenty of company.
"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."
Seeking favors is as old as the Capitol, but the new tendency to come at it
from the side - through family members - may be a consequence of
campaign-finance reform: As restrictions have tightened on traditional
political giving, interest groups have cast about for new ways to ingratiate
Nothing strikes quite such a personal note as channeling fees or lucrative
jobs to relatives - whether the relatives lobby Congress or perform other
services. There are no restrictions. Neither House nor Senate rules bar the
At least 17 senators and 11 members of the House have children, spouses or
other close relatives who lobby or work as consultants, most in Washington,
according to lobbyist reports, financial-disclosure forms and other state
and federal records. Many are paid by clients who count on the related
lawmaker for support.
But Harry Reid is in a class by himself. One of his sons and his son-in-law
lobby in Washington for companies, trade groups and municipalities seeking
Reid's help in the Senate. A second son has lobbied in Nevada for some of
those same interests, and a third has represented a couple of them as a
In the last four years alone, their 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.
Reid's chief of staff, Susan McCue, said he has had broad support in his
state for the Clark County bill and other legislation that he has championed
for those groups.
"In every instance, Sen. Reid acted in the best interest of the people of
Nevada and Nevada's economy," she said.
In an internal memo, McCue said Reid's family members had lobbied his staff
by "supplying research, technical support and strategic guidance." She
described them as "effective advocates for their clients."
Reid said he thought he might have had casual conversations about
legislation with his family members but could not remember specific cases or
"Have they said something? I am sure they have," he said. "I don't have
meetings with my children to go over business things."
Reid's sons - Rory, 40, Leif, 35, Josh, 31, and Key, 28 - work for Nevada's
largest law firm, Lionel Sawyer & Collins.
Rory Reid is a partner in the firm and was a Nevada lobbyist before his
election to the Clark County Board of Commissioners in November. Leif Reid
is a litigator who has represented mining and resort industry associations
Key Reid was hired to open the firm's Washington office in 2002 and help
lead its federal lobbying effort with former Sen. Richard H. Bryan (D-Nev.),
who splits his time between the capital and Nevada.
Barringer, 47 and married to the senator's daughter, Lana, is a lawyer,
federal lobbyist and partner in the small Washington-based lobbying firm of
McClure, Gerard and Neuenschwander.
Barringer and Reid's sons declined to be interviewed by the Los Angeles
Washington lobbying firms must file reports twice a year that disclose their
clients and the names of the people representing them. Those reports show
that, between them, Barringer and Key Reid have represented nearly every
major industry in Nevada, from mining and real estate development to tourism
and gambling to the city of Las Vegas. All of those clients rely on the
senator's goodwill on Capitol Hill.
Reid is the Senate's minority whip, the chamber's second-highest Democratic
leader. He is also a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the
Environment and Public Works Committee.
During 16 years in the Senate, Reid has worked tirelessly to help his state.
The University of Nevada at Reno named a building after him as a thank-you
for securing "tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for scientific
research at the university," including $8.25 million for earthquake studies,
the school said.
The Nevada Mining Assn. gave Reid a lifetime achievement award. Throughout
his career, the senator has fought tenaciously against hard-rock-mining
reforms opposed by the industry. And the American Gaming Assn. honored Reid
as one of "America's Gaming Greats." Again, Reid has consistently
represented the industry's positions, including opposition to a nationwide
ban on college-sports betting.
"I've been proud to help educate America about the contributions gaming
entertainment makes to Nevada and across the country," Reid said upon
receiving the award.
One of Reid's relatives has represented each of those interests as a lawyer
or lobbyist, according to lobbyist reports and court records.
Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., the president of the American Gaming Assn., understood
the possible sensitivity involved in hiring a member of Reid's family. He
said he called the senator before retaining his son-in-law, Barringer.
"I told him I was thinking of hiring Steve and asked if that was a problem
for him. Sen. Reid said, 'If you need him, hire him,' " Fahrenkopf said. "I
wouldn't hire any senator's son or son-in-law without checking first."
Reid said he has never used his position to steer business to his family
The senator has special standing when it comes to questions of propriety. He
is vice chairman - and former chairman - of the Ethics Committee, which has
almost total discretion in setting the standards for senators' conduct.
Reid said in an interview that he sees no problem with lobbying by
relatives, because lobbyists' activities are "very transparent." That is,
the law requires them to publicly report their clients and fees.
In September 2001, Reid sent a letter to his staff telling them that he had
sought guidance from the Senate Ethics Committee and had been advised that
there was no restriction on lobbying by a relative of a senator. He told his
staff to treat his family members who were lobbyists no better or worse than
any other lobbyist.
Soon after The Times interviewed him about his children's activities last
fall, the senator decided to ban relatives from lobbying his office
The ban applies to members of Reid's family but not to colleagues at the
firms where they work, such as former Sen. Bryan.
"Sen. Reid has long held that elected leaders must take steps to prevent
even the appearance of impropriety, and it has become clear this ban is
necessary for that reason," his chief of staff, McCue, said in a memo.
Public Lands Go Private
As a senator, Reid exerts a degree of power over local affairs that is
unknown in most states.
That is because the federal government owns 87% of Nevada's land; to a large
extent, Washington decides whether cities and businesses can expand and
where economic growth may occur. Even local zoning may become a federal
Over the years, Reid has used legislation to move federal land into private
hands and private land into the public realm. He says he has done so to
preserve scenic and environmentally sensitive areas while freeing up more
land for urban growth.
Such was the case with the Clark County legislation. It was co-sponsored by
Nevada's junior senator, Republican John Ensign, and the House version was
introduced by Rep. James A. Gibbons (R-Nev.). President Bush signed it in
Reid praised it as balancing economic development with safeguarding natural
resources. It placed an additional 440,000 acres of federal land under
wilderness protection, he noted.
The bill also benefited at least five clients of Reid family lobbyists. And
it contained a provision potentially worth millions of dollars to a senior
partner of the law firm that employs Reid's four sons, a provision that was
dropped at the last minute after questions were raised in Washington.
The bill freed about 18,000 acres near the cities of Las Vegas and North Las
Vegas for development and annexation, by releasing two parcels of land from
"wilderness study" protection. Key Reid and former Sen. Bryan lobbied for
those provisions, lobbyist reports show. City officials did not return phone
calls from The Times.
Barringer's municipal clients also did well.
Lobbying reports show Barringer's firm received $220,000 to lobby on the
bill for the city of Henderson. While the city did not get everything it
wanted, the bill freed up 4,000 federal acres on its outskirts for
development and annexation. Sen. Reid also supported another transfer of
federal land to a local irrigation project that paid Barringer's firm to
lobby on the provision. In each case, Barringer is listed by name as working
for the government entities. Officials did not return phone calls from The
Another Barringer client may have been the single biggest beneficiary of the
legislation: the Howard Hughes Corp., a division of the giant Rouse real
estate company and the biggest private landowner in Clark County.
Hughes wanted to expand its Summerlin planned community onto nearby federal
land. In exchange for the federal land, Hughes proposed to swap 1,082 acres
of rugged terrain scattered along the fringes of Red Rock Canyon National
Initially, Congress balked at the exchange. Several years earlier, it had
explicitly banned land swaps in southern Nevada because of evidence the
government had lost millions of dollars through unequal trades. Now, federal
land in the area must be sold at auction in most cases.
The Clark County bill set aside the auction requirement. Reid pointed out
that Hughes had begun pushing for the swap before the auction rule was
And, Reid argued, the exchange preserved the scenic value of the rugged land
adjoining the Red Rock conservation area. The state's leading environmental
groups had lined up behind the swap.
For its part, Hughes said that if Congress rejected the deal, it might build
on the parcels. In 2000, the company had told local tax authorities the land
was too steep to develop. But Hughes vice president Thomas Warden said the
company's position changed with the upswing in the Las Vegas real estate
An appraiser selected by Hughes valued the federal land at $24,448 an acre.
After the bill passed, federal land nearby was auctioned for six times that
Warden said that in such a volatile market, any number of factors could
account for the difference in prices. Chief of staff McCue said the
legislation stopped almost certain development of a "spectacular piece of
"We worked with the environmental community to do what was necessary to stop
the development," she said. "And we were successful."
The transfer was consummated in May. Warden said Sen. Reid had been
"especially helpful." He also credited the expertise of Barringer and his
firm, which was paid $300,000, according to lobbyist reports.
"Why were we successful?" Warden said. "It was because of the firm .... They
brought a lot to the deal."
Power Line Politics
The Hughes swap was at least done in plain sight. The company name appeared
in the Clark County bill, along with descriptions of what each party would
Not so with Section 709 of the original bill, "Relocation of Right-of-Way
Corridor Located in Clark and Lincoln Counties in the State of Nevada."
Only a close comparison of the provision with local property records for the
Coyote Springs valley, which lies northeast of Las Vegas, revealed that the
provision was intended to remove an obstacle to a proposed real estate
development project headed by Harvey Whittemore, a longtime friend of Sen.
Reid and a senior partner in the law firm that employs his four sons.
As U.S. Route 93 slices through the high desert, it divides two visions of
On one side of the road lay 49,817 acres of federal land for which special
wilderness protection had been proposed.
On the other side lay 42,800 acres of privately owned land on which
Whittemore's development group, Coyote Springs Investment, hoped to build
the largest planned community in Nevada history - with 50,000 homes, plus
stores and 10 championship-golf courses.
A cloud hung over the plan, however: A federally mandated right-of-way for
electric power lines cuts a mile-wide swath the length of the land that
Coyote Springs wants to develop.
So far, no skeletal steel towers march across the landscape, but proposals
to erect them keep cropping up. And it's difficult to envision buyers
flocking to luxury homes whose neighborhood features hulking transmission
structures. The right-of-way made the 11,000 acres in the corridor
essentially worthless, the development company told county tax officials in
Section 709 of Reid's bill had offered a solution: Simply move the
transmission corridor across U.S. 93 and plunk it down in the "wilderness
study" area. Power lines are not permitted on such land without
congressional approval. In a flurry of technical language, Reid's land bill
changed the classification.
The provision's narrow purpose was "hidden by obfuscatory language in a
large land bill," said Janine Blaeloch, director of the Western Land
Exchange Project, an independent group that monitors federal-land policy.
Reid, however, considers moving the corridor a win-win proposition. "That
property sat out there with nothing on it for many, many years," he said.
"Who gets hurt in the movement?"
Whittemore did not return phone calls from The Times.
As originally drafted, Reid's bill would have removed the power-line
corridor from the land owned by Whittemore and his partners, at no cost to
them. After Interior Department officials objected, Reid agreed that the
developers should pay the government something. Reid then withdrew the
right-of-way provision altogether, after questions were raised by The Times
and the staff at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
However, the provision removing wilderness-study protection from the federal
land was approved and signed into law, meaning relocation can be revived
Nevada Gold Mines
While the Clark County bill focused on real estate, Reid has not neglected
the state's other economic engines, also among his children's broad base of
The mining industry is second only to gaming in Nevada. The state is the
third-largest gold producer in the world.
Reid, a native son, grew up in the down-at-the-heel mining camp of
Searchlight, in a family so poor they lived in a tin-roofed shack with no
plumbing. The town's water supply was almost undrinkable, but there was a
swimming pool - built for the brothels that helped keep the community
alive - which opened to local children one day a week, he wrote in a book
about his hometown titled "Searchlight: The Camp That Didn't Fail."
His father worked in the mines. After Reid put himself through law school
and got into politics, he became one of the industry's foremost defenders.
Hard-rock mining needed such a champion. In recent years, it has been under
almost constant siege because of its environmental destructiveness, as well
as what critics see as its almost-free exploitation of federal land.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently concluded that "mining in the
Western United States has contaminated stream reaches in the headwaters of
more than 40% of the watersheds in the West."
Even with modern improvements, the industry still relies on chemicals and
mining techniques that have contaminated thousands of acres of public land
with cyanide, heavy metals and other toxic substances.
For five years beginning in 1997, Reid helped beat back or stall a series of
reforms that he considered excessive, using his position on the
Appropriations Committee to attach delaying riders to must-pass bills -
including an emergency-aid bill for Kosovo.
Though some reforms eventually passed, several of those the industry
considered unacceptable have been weakened or eliminated under the Bush
During much of that time, his son-in-law and sons represented mining
interests in Washington and Nevada.
Mining companies paid $200,000 in lobbying fees to the law firm where
Barringer worked from 1999 to 2000, and he worked on their accounts during
that period, records show.
Barringer joined his current firm, whose specialties include mining, in
2001. The National Mining Assn. and mining companies active in Nevada have
paid that firm $780,000 in fees since his arrival, lobbyist reports show.
Barringer has been one of the partners assigned to the mining accounts, the
Doug Hock, a spokesman for Newmont Mining Corp., said the company used
Barringer "based on his expertise in mining and environmental law" and not
because of his family ties.
The mining firm Placer Dome Inc. began paying the Lionel Sawyer law firm
$5,000 a month in 2001 to be its "eyes and ears" in Nevada and sought out
Rory Reid's services, said Placer Dome Vice President Joe Danni. Placer also
works with Barringer on federal issues, he said.
He said neither Reid nor Barringer would improperly take advantage of their
family ties to the senator.
"My view of Rory and Steve is they are both very principled individuals," he
said. "I have never lost sleep over it."
Sen. Reid and industry spokespeople say family members have been paid for
their professional services, not their relationship to an important senator.
"Steve Barringer has been a lawyer for more than 20 years," Reid said. "They
are not hiring some doofus."
Gambling, Nevada's No. 1 industry, is another frequent target of reform that
has sought the help of Reid and the services of his family members.
In 2001, for example, serious efforts were underway to impose a nationwide
ban on college-sports betting. The National Collegiate Athletic Assn. backed
federal legislation that would outlaw it everywhere, including Nevada, where
it is a legal, multimillion-dollar business.
Reid and his fellow members of the Nevada delegation began promoting a
competing bill that also promised a crackdown on collegiate sports betting -
outside of Nevada.
The American Gaming Assn. enlisted Barringer and other lobbyists to promote
Reid's bill and defeat the other one. The result was a stalemate and no
action, though another bill to ban all college betting has since been
introduced in the House.
The American Gaming Assn. is one of Barringer's most faithful clients,
following him from one firm to another and paying his present firm $180,000
over the last two years.
Beyond Nevada's largest industries, Sen. Reid has helped a helicopter-tour
company fighting new federal flight restrictions around the Grand Canyon.
The company used his son-in-law Barringer to lobby on the issue. A chemical
company seeking federal money to clean up radioactive waste and a
hydrogen-fuel maker looking for a federal contract also got help from Reid.
Both hired son Rory to lobby on unrelated issues in Nevada.
If there is an appearance of a conflict, Reid said, it is unavoidable in a
large, talented and politically active family such as his.
"My kids are well-educated. They are nice young men. My daughter is a lovely
young woman," Reid said, adding that his son-in-law is a "brilliant lawyer."
"I have done, I think, everything I can to protect myself and to protect my
boys," he said.
"The only thing I could do to help myself is to have less kids