Monday, January 29, 2007

Hmmm, we know what they'd be saying if a Republican had done this

Harry Reid stands to make a big profit from a land deal with a friend for whom Reid introduced legislation that they now say was no big deal.
It's hard to buy undeveloped land in booming northern Arizona for $166 an acre. But now-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid effectively did just that when a longtime friend decided to sell property owned by the employee pension fund that he controlled.

In 2002, Reid (D-Nev.) paid $10,000 to a pension fund controlled by Clair Haycock, a Las Vegas lubricants distributor and his friend for 50 years. The payment gave the senator full control of a 160-acre parcel in Bullhead City that Reid and the pension fund had jointly owned. Reid's price for the equivalent of 60 acres of undeveloped desert was less than one-tenth of the value the assessor placed on it at the time.

Six months after the deal closed, Reid introduced legislation to address the plight of lubricants dealers who had their supplies disrupted by the decisions of big oil companies. It was an issue the Haycock family had brought to Reid's attention in 1994, according to a source familiar with the events.

If Reid were to sell the property for any of the various estimates of its value, his gain on the $10,000 investment could range from $50,000 to $290,000.

It is a potential violation of congressional ethics standards for a member to accept anything of value — including a real estate discount — from a person with interests before Congress.

In a statement, Reid's spokesman Jon Summers said that the transaction was not a gift and that the price was due to the property's history and the fact that only a partial interest was sold. Reid's action on the lubricants issue was unrelated to the sale and reflected the senator's interest in fairness for small businesses, Summers said.
Sure. If the senator's spokesman says that it was unrelated, then the inquiry should just stop there, right?

Whatever happened to worrying about just the appearance of impropriety? Or is that concern only for Republicans?

Read the whole story and then try to imagine what the reaction would be if this were Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate. Ho hum? I doubt it.