Saturday, April 16, 2005

You want something done, you call a Wise Guy


And In Nevada, Reid Is the Name to Know:
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.

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.
"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."
Just walking around money for these swells, I'm sure.
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 themselves.

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 practice.

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 litigator.

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.
Click through for more details from this 2003 article by Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper at the LA Times. I guess the editors didn't spike it because they didn't know what renown Senator Harry Reid would achieve in Donkdom. Don't hold your breath waiting for the Soros funded pressure groups to start complaining. (Hat tip: FR where some folks are wondering whether ole Harry would adopt them.)

Update: What would a story about one of the "families" be without some colorful nicknames? That's what I thought, so I updated the photo.