Reid Donor Indicted: Long History Of Mutually Beneficial Relationship

Josh Gerstein at Politico reported late last night that “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s campaign received tens of thousands of dollars in illegal contributions to his 2010 effort, according to the indictment Wednesday of a Nevada lobbyist.”

“F. Harvey Whittemore Of Reno Faces Four Felony Counts In Connection With The Alleged Scheme To Funnel Funds To Reid.”  (Josh Gerstein, “Lobbyist Indicted For Harry Reid Donations,” Politico, 6/6/12)

“Reid was not accused of any wrongdoing.”  (Josh Gerstein, “Lobbyist Indicted For Harry Reid Donations,” Politico, 6/6/12)

$138,000 In Illegal Funds. “The indictment says that the ‘vast majority’ of about $138,000 in donations Whittemore delivered to Reid’s campaign in March 2007 were actually funded by the lobbyist, who allegedly reimbursed employees of his firm and their spouses for donations.”  (Josh Gerstein, “Lobbyist Indicted For Harry Reid Donations,” Politico, 6/6/12)

“Nevada Press Reports Described Whittemore As A Longtime Friend Of Reid’s.”  (Josh Gerstein, “Lobbyist Indicted For Harry Reid Donations,” Politico, 6/6/12)

Longtime friend? Ha! That’s an understatement. There’s a long history of Reid and Whittemore scratching each other’s backs for mutual benefit. Consider the Coyote Springs land deal Reid helped grease the wheels for in favor of Whittemore:

COYOTE SPRINGS, A “BARREN” SWATCH OF 43,000 ACRES, TO BE DEVELOPED WITH REID’S HELP:

“One Of The Most Inhospitable Places In The Country, Coyote Springs Valley Is So Barren That, Until Recently, Its Best Use Was Thought To Be As A Weapons Test Range.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

In 1988, Congress Turned The Land Over To A Defense Contractor.  “It was the exigencies of national security that put Coyote Springs in play. In 1988, Congress turned the land over to defense contractor Aerojet-General Corp. to test rockets. The southern third of the land is in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, and the rest is in Lincoln County.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

In 1998, The Land Was Sold To Private Developer Harvey Whittemore.  “The rocket range was never created and the land remained essentially untouched until 1998, when Whittemore paid Aerojet-General at least $15 million for title to the privately owned portion of the site and for the rights under a rent-free government lease of the tortoise habitat.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Coyote Springs Valley Is 43,000 Acres And Will Have “159,000 Homes, 16 Golf Courses And A Full Complement Of Stores And Service Facilities. “Yet the valley — an hour northeast of Las Vegas — is on its way to becoming a real estate development of historic proportions, with as many as 159,000 homes, 16 golf courses and a full complement of stores and service facilities. At nearly 43,000 acres, Coyote Springs covers almost twice as much space as the next-largest development in a state famous for outsized building projects.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Helping Make Coyote Springs Come Alive Was An Alliance Between A Multimillionaire Developer [Harvey Whittemore] And One Of The Highest-Ranking Members Of Congress: Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, The Senate Minority Leader And A Member Of The Powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

REID USED HIS POWERFUL POSITION AND CONNECTIONS TO HELP HARVEY WHITTEMORE “CLEAR OBSTACLES FROM COYOTE SPRINGS’ PATH”:

“Over The Last Four Years, Reid Has Used His Influence In Washington To Help The Developer, Nevada Super-Lobbyist Whittemore, Clear Obstacles From Coyote Springs’ Path.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“At One Point, Reid Proposed Opening The Way For Whittemore To Develop Part Of The Site For Free — Something For Which The Developer Later Agreed To Pay The Government $10 Million.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

REID AND HIS SONS WERE WELL COMPENSATED:

“As The Project Advanced, Reid Received Tens Of Thousands Of Dollars In Campaign Contributions From Whittemore.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“The Contributions Not Only Went To Reid’s Senate Campaigns, But Also To His Leadership Fund, Which He Used To Help Bankroll The Campaigns Of Democratic Colleagues.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Since 2000, Whittemore, His Wife And The Coyote Springs Company Have Given Reid’s Senatorial Campaign And Political Action Committees At Least $45,000. That Included $35,000 For Reid’s Leadership PAC, The Searchlight Leadership Fund, Which Helped Him Advance As A Senate Leader.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Harvey Whittemore And His Real Estate Development Project Contributed A Total Of $35,000 In Soft Money To The Searchlight Leadership Fund. Harvey Whittemore gave Reid’s Leadership PAC $25,000 in unregulated soft money during the third quarter of 2002. Additionally, Coyote Springs, the real estate development project headed by Whittemore, donated another $10,000 to Reid’s leadership committee in 2000. (Internal Revenue Service Website)

“Most Of That Money Was Contributed In 2002 Shortly After Reid Introduced The Clark County Land Bill.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Prior To 2000, The Whittemores Had Given Reid And His Senate Campaign Committee A Total Of $6,500, Plus $5,000 For His Leadership PAC.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Whittemore Also Helped Advance The Legal Careers Of Two Of Reid’s Four Sons. One Of The Two, Leif Reid, Who Is Whittemore’s Personal Lawyer, Has Represented The Developer Throughout The Coyote Springs Project, Including In Negotiations With Federal Officials.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Whittemore Also Helped Reid’s Sons, All Of Whom At Various Times Have Worked For The Law Firm In Which He Is A Senior Partner, Lionel, Sawyer And Collins. Rory Reid Is A Partner In The Firm.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“When [Rory Reid] Ran Successfully For The Clark County Board Of Commissioners, Whittemore Contributed $5,000.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“He Also Gave Josh Reid $5,000 For An Unsuccessful Bid For A Seat On The City Council In Cottonwood Heights, Utah.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Reid Declined To Be Interviewed About The Coyote Springs Project.  “Reid, who declined to be interviewed for this article, cites economic grounds for his support of the project, as do his Nevada congressional colleagues.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

THE COYOTE SPRINGS DEVELOPMENT HAD MANY OBSTACLES AND REID WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN REMOVING SOME OF THEM:

“For All Its Possibilities, The Land Had Serious Obstacles To Development That Only The Federal Government Could Remove.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

OBSTACLE ONE:

The “Mile-Wide Power Line Corridor.” “First, Congress had created a mile-wide power line corridor covering 10,500 acres and running the length of the property close to the highway. No power lines had been built, but development inside the corridor seemed to be precluded.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“In 2002, Sen. Reid Went To Work On Removing The Power Line Corridor.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Reid Tried To Get The Power Corridor Shifted Off Whittemore’s Land.  “First, he and others in Nevada’s congressional delegation tucked an obscurely worded provision into a huge land bill to benefit a wide range of interests in Clark County. The provision shifted the power corridor off Whittemore’s land and onto federal land along the west side of U.S. 93.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Reid’s Plan Required Whittemore To Pay Nothing, Even Though The Land’s Value Would Appreciate As A Result.  “As drafted, the bill would have done Whittemore a large financial favor: It required him to pay nothing for getting the power corridor moved to the west side of the highway — even though it increased the value of his 10,500 acres on the east side by clearing it for development.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“The Giveaway Prompted Questions From The Bureau Of Land Management And The Senate Energy And Natural Resources Committee.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“With The Legislative Clock Running Out, Reid And His Nevada Colleagues Backed Off, Removing From The Bill The Provision Moving The Power Line Corridor.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“A Year And A Half Later, Reid And The Nevada Delegation Tried Again, Inserting Language Moving The Power Corridor To The West Side Of The Highway Into A Public Land Bill For Lincoln County.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Reid Tried Again, This Time Having Whittemore “Pay Only About $160,000.”  “This time, Whittemore had to compensate the government on the basis of ‘fair market value,’ but that was defined in such a way that would have required him to pay only about $160,000.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

In The End, Whittemore Was Required To Pay $10.4 Million.  “Drawing fresh criticism, Reid and the delegation changed the cost provision to say government appraisers should determine what Whittemore had to pay — $10.4 million as it turned out. The bill became law in November 2004.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

OBSTACLE TWO:

“A Second Problem Was That Ancient Stream Beds And Washes Crisscrossed The Site. Though Dry Most Of The Year, As Part Of The Valley’s Ecosystem They Could Not Be Bulldozed Or Otherwise Altered Without Federal Permits.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“By The Spring Of 2005, Only One Step Remained: Securing A Permit To Deal With The Stream Beds And Washes.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“That Process, Handled By The Army Corps Of Engineers, Seemed Routine, But In Late July Trouble Struck.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Alexis Strauss, An Official In The Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Office That Oversees Nevada, Notified The Corps Of Engineers That Her Office Had Concerns.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Strauss Objected Because Of “Unacceptable Impacts To Aquatic Resources Of National Importance.” “‘We respectfully object to the issuance of a permit for the proposed project because the authorization may result in substantial and unacceptable impacts to aquatic resources of national importance,’ Strauss wrote.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Reid’s Top Energy And Environment Aide Was Working On The Issue Almost Immediately.  “Less than a week after the issue arose, Sen. Reid’s then-top aide for energy and environment, Peter Umhofer, called the regional office. Whittemore said he had asked Umhofer to set up a meeting for him with federal officials. Umhofer also contacted the Corps of Engineers.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Officials At Both Agencies Got The Message That Reid Was Deeply Interested In Coyote Springs, And Vendlinski Made Clear That Umhofer’s Intervention Had Upped The Stakes.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“At An Aug. 16, 2005, Meeting, Whittemore, Leif Reid And Their Consultants Tried To Persuade The EPA To Drop The Aquatic Resource Designation.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“The EPA Officials Refused.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Meantime, Sens. Reid And Ensign Called EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson In Washington. The Senators Said Nevada Developers Were Complaining About Undue Delays On Permits.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

Before The Meeting, Reid Aides Were On The Phone With The EPA.  “On Sept. 20, two days before Reid and Ensign were to confer with Johnson, three Reid staffers called the EPA regional officials to express Reid’s concerns about permits, including developers’ complaints that the EPA had become more demanding.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“When Johnson Talked To The Two Senators, They Reiterated Developers’ Complaints About The EPA’s Regional Office And Expressed The Developers’ Concern About Their Ability To Get Permits In The Future.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“At Some Point In The Process, Leif Reid Called His Father’s Office About The Permit Issue. Sen. Reid’s Office Says The Call Had No Effect On The Senator’s Actions.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“As It Happened, By The Time Sens. Reid And Ensign Had Their Conversation With The Head Of The EPA, Whittemore’s Permit Problem Was All But Over.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Coyote Springs Agreed To Leave Several Washes Untouched, Reduced The Number Of Acres Of Waterways To Be Filled In And Pledged To Make Environmental Improvements On 19 Acres Of Other Wash Land.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

OBSTACLE THREE:

“In Addition, While The Private Owner Controlled All 42,842 Acres, The Federal Government Had Retained Title To Almost A Third Of Those Acres To Maintain A Preserve For The Desert Tortoise, Nevada’s State Reptile, Which Is Shielded By The Endangered Species Act.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Whittemore began to push for the title to — and unrestricted use of — the tortoise habitat in the middle of the site. He argued that moving the tortoise preserve to the eastern edge of the site, where it would abut federal land, would help the desert tortoise and remove an impediment to his project.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“In 1999, regional officials of the Interior Department refused, saying that only Congress could approve moving the preserve. Over the next five years, Whittemore bombarded the government with proposals.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Finally, in 2004, the Bureau of Land Management agreed to give him title to nearly 10,000 acres of tortoise land in the middle of his site in exchange for equal acreage along the fringes. They called the swap a ‘minor’ boundary adjustment.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Neither Sen. Reid Nor Leif Reid Played A Role In Getting The Tortoise Preserve Relocated, Whittemore Said.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

“Today, With The Obstacles Gone And Construction Under Way, Whittemore’s Efforts Seem To Have Paid Off.”  (Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper, “Desert Connections,” Los Angeles Times, 8/20/06)

I’m sure Reid knew nothing about the illegal donations to his campaign. Reid and Whittemore are simply longtime friends. Yeah right. And I’m a billionaire.

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