Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Corruption Allegations Surround Senate Democrat Leader

The Washington Post reports on the latest Congressional corruption scandal: "Reid Accepted Free Boxing Tickets While a Related Bill Was Pending"

Senate Democratic Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.


Senate ethics rules generally allow lawmakers to accept gifts from federal, state or local governments, but specifically warn against taking such gifts -- particularly on multiple occasions -- when they might be connected to efforts to influence official actions.


Several ethics experts said Reid should have paid for the tickets, which were close to the ring and worth between several hundred and several thousand dollars each, to avoid the appearance he was being influenced by gifts.

Two other senators attended the fights with Reid: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) paid for his and Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) had already recused himself from considering the legislation that the Nevada Athletic Commission sought to influence.

More details about this scandal and Sen. Reid's ties to Jack Abramoff are available in the main article. Rich Galen also comments, and asks how Reid would be being treated if his last name was DeLay.

Update, June 1: "Reid Says He Won't Accept Free Tickets"

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid learned that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas after all. A day after The Associated Press reported Reid accepted free ringside seats to boxing matches from a Nevada agency trying to influence him on federal boxing legislation, the senator offered his own ethics justification to a home state audience in Las Vegas.

And he vowed to keep taking such gifts.

But Reid's comments Tuesday quickly reached Washington, where several ethics experts concluded the Senate leader had misstated the Senate rules to his constituents.

Within hours of being questioned by AP about the ethics experts' assertions, Reid's office abruptly reversed course and acknowledged Wednesday night he had misspoken about the ethics rules.

The Senate leader also has decided not to take free boxing seats in the future even though he still believes it was ethical to do so in 2004 and 2005, Reid's office said.

More here.

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