August 17, 2012

How did Harry Reid get rich?

Betsy Woodruff, NRO:

In 2004, the senator made $700,000 off a land deal that was, to say the least, unorthodox. It started in 1998 when he bought a parcel of land with attorney Jay Brown, a close friend whose name has surfaced multiple times in organized-crime investigations and whom one retired FBI agent described as “always a person of interest.” Three years after the purchase, Reid transferred his portion of the property to Patrick Lane LLC, a holding company Brown controlled. But Reid kept putting the property on his financial disclosures, and when the company sold it in 2004, he profited from the deal — a deal on land that he didn’t technically own and that had nearly tripled in value in six years.

When his 2010 challenger Sharron Angle asked him in a debate how he had become so wealthy, he said, “I did a very good job investing.” Did he ever. On December 20, 2005, he invested $50,000 to $100,000 in the Dow Jones U.S. Energy Sector Fund (IYE), which closed that day at $29.15. The companies whose shares it held included ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and ConocoPhillips. When he made a partial sale of his shares on August 19, 2008, during congressional recess, IYE closed at $41.82. Just a month later, on September 17, Reid was working to bring to the floor a bill that the Joint Committee on Taxation said would cost oil companies — including those in the fund — billions of dollars in taxes and regulatory fees. The bill passed a few days later, and by October 10, IYE’s shares had fallen by 42 percent, to $24.41, for a host of reasons. Savvy investing indeed.

Here’s another example: The Los Angeles Timesreported in November 2006 that when Reid became Senate majority leader he committed to making earmark reform a priority, saying he’d work to keep congressmen from using federal dollars for pet projects in their districts. It was a good idea but an odd one for the senator to espouse. He had managed to get $18 million set aside to build a bridge across the Colorado River between Laughlin, Nev., and Bullhead City, Ariz., a project that wasn’t a priority for either state’s transportation agency. His ownership of 160 acres of land nearby that stood to appreciate considerably from the project had nothing to do with the decision, according to one of his aides. The property’s value has varied since then. On his financial-disclosure forms from 2006, it was valued at $250,000 to $500,000. Open Secrets now lists it as his most valuable asset, worth $1 million to $5 million as of 2010.

How Reid acquired that land is interesting, too. He put $10,000 into a pension fund his friend Clair Haycock controlled, to take over the 160-acre parcel at a price far below its assessed value. Six months later, Reid introduced legislation that would help Haycock’s industry, a move many observers said appeared to be a quid pro quo, though Reid and Haycock denied that the legislation was the result of a property deal.

We don’t know how much more money Reid has or how he made all of it. For that, we’d have to see his tax returns.

What makes this article so cute is also what makes it so galling:  we know that, at best, these “revelations” will only serve to embarrass Reid temporarily, or perhaps provide fodder for political opponents.  Beyond that, the facts carry with them an air of fatalism — a “that’s just how things are done in DC” tenor that has resigned itself to the fact that of course nothing will ever be done legally to look into Reid’s dealings, or to the dealings of any of these politicians who grow rich on insider schemes or by pushing legislation as a quid pro quo for sweetheart arrangements.

Sorry, but I find that unacceptable. Time was when we — the governed, for whom these public servants ostensibly work — would have tarred and feathered the thieving scum enriching themselves at our expense and in our names, then run them out of town on a rail.  Nowadays, this kind of thing — though cast as unacceptable — is nevertheless routinely acceptedWe grouse about it, but nothing is done to stop it — and worse, we have resigned ourselves to the notion that doing nothing to punish such behavior is itself a part of the status quo that can’t be challenged.


Just because lawmakers are able to write laws exempting themselves from prosecution in many cases doesn’t mean we have to accept the validity of those laws.

Want to start taking back the country?  Start by tearing away the layers of immunity lawmakers grant themselves.



Posted by Jeff G. @ 8:54am

Comments (22)

  1. How did Barak Obama get rich?

    The same way Harry Reid did!

  2. If a democrat tells you capitalism is theft, and business greed and corruption, you may be sure he’s speaking from personal experience.

  3. But laws aren’t meant for Democrats

    A Democratic committee chairman overrode his own subpoena three years ago in an investigation of former subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. to exclude records showing that he, other House members and congressional aides got VIP discounted loans from the company, documents show.

    The procedure to keep the names secret was devised by Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. In 2003, the 15-term congressman had two loans processed by Countrywide’s VIP section, which was established to give discounts to favored borrowers.

    The effort at secrecy was reversed when Towns’ Republican successor as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, California Rep. Darrell Issa, issued a second subpoena. It yielded Countrywide records identifying four current House members, a former member and five staff aides whose loans went through the VIP unit. Towns was on the list.

  4. Or what Darleen said.

  5. Harry Reid, the registered sex offender and pedophile? He got rich off of shady land deals. And his daughters’ hard work (sic) at the Bunny Ranch.

  6. Harry made his money the old fashioned way; he brokered deals in Wash and Carson City for his pals in NV and helped get bills passed that would funnel more money there way or make it easier to cheat the people, the state or the federal govt.


  7. The easiest solution I see is term limits for any and all elected positions, full stop. We now a have politics as a profession, much more dangerous than giving public sector unions bargaining rights. I used to think that we get the government we deserve but frankly too many people don’t seem to care enough to do anything, when doing something is as easy as voting for someone else (hell, don’t cross party lines, go vote in a primary!). Sadly, the people who benefit most from politics as a career are the same people we would need to change the rules so that politics is not a career.

  8. The most straightforward solution would be to restrict the franchise to some combination of income tax and/or property tax payers. That would make it a lot harder to bribe the voters with other people’s money.

  9. Unfortunately, the only way to get term limits is to get them to pass it. Who ever heard of enough Congressmen doing the right thing?

    To be fair, they’re not ALL lying, cheating, chiselers, they just think they so fabulous that they don’t need to be term limited. They don’t want to take away any choices from their constituents. {spit}

    We have the government the majority voted for.

    Me, I blame my neighbor.

  10. The easiest solution I see is term limits for any and all elected positions, full stop.

    I tend to agree with Jeff that the easiest solution is torches, pitchforks, tar, feathers, and a fence rail. Of course, I may have a conflict of interest…

  11. term limits

    torches, pitchforks, tar, feathers, and a fence rail

    To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to…

  12. Pingback: Instapundit » Blog Archive » STILL ASKING: How Did Harry Reid Get Rich?

  13. C’mon, Jeff. Expressing disapproval of Our Betters™ isn’t just extreme, but literally severely conservatively extreme. To the max! How can Maverick reach across the aisle if he bothers with these petty foibles?

  14. How did the Virginia vintners get pissed?

    “At the center of all this is the county zoning administrator, a bureaucratic czar named Kimberley Johnson, whose bullying and heavy-handed enforcement tactics have resulted in calls for her dismissal by county farmers and residents. Johnson was recently the subject of a citizen-farmer “pitchfork protest” in a matter in which she fined one farmer for conducting a pumpkin carving and a birthday party for eight little girls without the proper permit.”

  15. Sounds like a job for Ragnar Danneskjöld. I’ve suggested to my capable, intelligent teenage daughter that she might consider piracy for a career.

  16. So, the torches, pitchforks, etc. are basically voter applied term limits.

    Works for me.

  17. cranky, the Founders didn’t include a recall provision in the Constitution because they intended the Second Amendment to be sufficient.

  18. Jeffrey Lord, asking the question of Joe Soptik: “Who sent ya?”

    Cause they don’t want nobody who nobody sent, see.

  19. I wonder if Lord reads Ulstermann. I’d like to see Levin pick up on Gerard and tug on that bone for a spell.

  20. The Unions are kinda like the Shia muslims: riding high the last few years, they take crazy chances now because they’ve foggily glimpsed their probable future, and it isn’t pretty.