How Did Dingy Harry Get Rich As A Public Servant?


Real Clear Politics:

Harry Reid’s Long, Steady Accretion of Power & Wealth

Last month, as the Senate was busy negotiating the final details of its Ukraine aid package, Majority Leader Harry Reid became temporarily distracted with a campaign finance issue. Since winning re-election in 2010, Reid’s campaign had purchased gifts for supporters and donors from vendors like Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon, Nordstrom, and the Senate gift shop, among others. But one round of spending was directed to a less recognizable firm: Ryan Elisabeth, a jewelry line.

In 2012 and 2013, the campaign spent $31,267 purchasing gifts from the company, which is owned by Reid’s granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid. All told, she took in nearly seven times more cash than all vendors of donor gifts combined during that period of time.

Veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston first reported the news after receiving a tip about the expenditures. (Ryan Elisabeth’s last name did not appear on the FEC reports, and the senator’s office initially failed to confirm her identity.) While Sen. Reid does not appear to have broken the law, he understood that the purchases created a perception of favoritism. Lamenting the unwanted attention heaped on his granddaughter, he decided after the news broke that “it would be best to pay for her work out of my own pocket.”

This was not the first time that Reid had mixed family and politics — or potentially run afoul of ethics rules.

Harry Reid has spent more than 40 years in government, starting as a small city’s attorney and eventually becoming the most powerful senator in the country. He has raised tens of millions of dollars in political contributions, established himself as an institution in Nevada politics along the way, and made himself a very wealthy man. His humble roots — from growing up in a remote desert town to working six days a week as a Capitol police officer while in law school — are legend in Washington and Nevada. Reid exhibits the toughness of a once destitute boy who completely transformed his life through determination, hard work — and good luck.


Contrary to popular belief, Reid arrived in Washington wealthy; he had a net worth of at least — and likely more than — $1 million, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Although Reid had spent most of the previous 15 years in public office, or pursuing public office, he still proved to be a robust earner. After his term as lieutenant governor ended in 1975, he would not return to public office full time until 1983. (The Gaming Commission is only part-time work.) That left Reid approximately eight years to work as a private-practice attorney.

As a former public official with strong political connections, he found lucrative work in Las Vegas. It appears his personal boom was simply part of the broader expansion of Nevada’s economy. Some attorneys at the time, particularly those with political networks, would occasionally receive payment in the form of real estate. Given Nevada’s rapid growth, such payments would become extremely valuable over time. It’s unclear if Reid received land as compensation then, but he certainly made good money and invested in real estate early on.

Theoretically, working as a lawmaker should have severely limited Reid’s earning potential. In the early 1980s, members of Congress received a salary of about $70,000 per year. Though pay has generally risen — and Reid receives more than most lawmakers because of his leadership position — he has never earned more than $200,000 per year in salary.

Yet, his estimated net worth peaked at around $10 million just a few years ago, and he has remained consistently wealthier than when he entered Congress. (Reid reported that his net worth in 2012 was somewhere between $2.8 million and $6.3 million. His 2013 financial disclosures will be released later this year.) As of 2012, real estate composed about one-third of his portfolio. The rest was made up of government bonds; stakes in energy, electronics, pharmaceutical, and chemical companies; and other investments. He also possesses significant mining claims potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How did Reid manage to grow his net worth so significantly while raising a large family, on a public official’s salary, and incurring the expenses associated with maintaining two residences on opposite sides of the country? Reid has lived frugally — before buying a house in recent years, he kept just a trailer in his hometown of Searchlight — and he has made undeniably savvy investments. More significantly, however, is his willingness to enter political and ethical gray areas to make money.

Reid has walked a fine line over the years, occasionally breaking rules or engaging in brazenly unseemly behavior during his pursuit of wealth. Further, he has also used his position to save money in ways that the general public can’t — a practice that creates public relations issues and raises questions about the senator’s ethics. As for any illegal behavior or obvious wrongdoing, Jon Ralston told RCP, “There’s been some smoke but there’s never any fire on that.”

There is quite a bit of smoke.

There’s a bunch more and you should go read it.

The real problem isn’t Harry Reid. Even if every dollar he made was earned legally, the whole system is corrupt. There are all kinds of ways to payoff politicians, including speaking fees, book deals, jobs for family members, jobs when they leave office, sweetheart land deals, insider trading . . . the list goes on and on.

The ones who get in trouble are the ones who get sloppy and greedy. The honest ones get corrupted. Literally “everyone” does it. Ask yourself this: How did Bill and Hillary Clinton accumulate more than $100 million dollars AFTER he left office? When he first left office Bill was making $1 million a speech. That’s a lot of money just to listen to Bubba talk.

As long as paying off politicians is a good investment, people with money will pay off politicians. The bigger and more powerful government is, the more incentive there is to bribe government officials.

That’s why I support smaller government, with more power at the state and local levels. That won’t end corruption, but it will spread it out and reduce the scale.

About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
This entry was posted in Corruption, Crony Capitalism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

60 Responses to How Did Dingy Harry Get Rich As A Public Servant?

  1. driguana says:

    Smaller government AND term limits.

  2. The Klown says:
  3. mothy67 says:

    Yeah Cher is back on twittet and twitchy has her

  4. Its funny while reading that article how reporters in Nevada were sure to say “oh Harry did nothing illegal or corrupt, we’re just reporting strange things that go on around him”. I guess that they’re scared of him and all that power they say he has.
    I even question that his wife discovered a bomb under his car. That’s a great story to put out showing Harry was a big fighter against organized crime in the state. That’s a great story to get elected to higher office. Trouble is, there’s nothing showing him going up against those kind of foes. Especially not like we saw in Sara Palin going against her own party and the energy conglomerates in Alaska. She made no big financial gains like ole Harry has yet she’s a demon and he’s not the 1%.

  5. I have been on this blog for a long time and a few months ago I began having trouble writing comments to your posts here. I’d comment, try to sign in with my wordpress account and it would say my password was wrong. It did this over and over. I actually can see my wordpress username at the top of the page yet am unable to comment using that. This time, I signed in with my twitter account just to be able to write this and see if you guys can help me with this issue. Why does wordpress keep insisting my password is wrong? Its made me change it numerous times. I see lots of others have this problem when I search for a resolution but no answers from the wordpress help site. Everybody here seems to be up on using wordpress but I’m just too damn lazy to read all the wordpress stuff since I don’t have a blog. Please help me so I can share all my insightful, dumb comments along with the rest of you folks. You have no idea what you’ve been missing, haha

    • votermom says:

      What I do when wordpress plays tricks on me is delete my wordpress and gravatar cookies (or all my cookies) and clear my browser cache.

    • 49erDweet says:

      I hesitate to say this here………….
      but what the HEY!
      I log in to WP from four various devices. To the same account and avatar. Two with one password, one with another password and the fourth with another password. To the same account. On WP. But don’t tell them, cause it works for me. At least today.

  6. Since my comments are in moderation now I’m paranoid that’s not being able to comment here has all been by design. I’ve been banned all over the place so its nothing unusual.

  7. The Klown says:
    • DandyTIger says:

      Eugene is a one trick pony.

      • votermom says:

        Sotomayor is starting to get on my nerves.

        • foxyladi14 says:

          Mine too. 😯

        • angienc says:

          She and Kagan are hacks and it is a disgrace that they were appointed the SCOTUS. And yes, it hurts me to say it as a woman, but neither one are worthy of being Justices.

          Kagan has absolutely no experience on the bench whatsoever before being elevated to the SCOTUS — remember all the outrage when GWB floated the name of Harriet Meyer for an appointment to SCOTUS as a “political appointee” — well, Kagan is *actually* that political appointee and no one said a damn fucking word.

          Sotomayor is just as bad — yes she served on the lower court where she was reversed 60% of the time — 60-fucking-%!! You’d literally do better flipping a coin.

          • angienc says:

            PS — and that ^^ isn’t a disagreement with their judicial philosophy (if they had one — which they don’t). You can look at 2 extremes on the court — Scalia and Ginsburg — disagree with either’s judicial philosophy all you want, but you can’t claim either one as being “hacks” or not worthy of being SCOTUS Justices.
            Kagan and Sotomayor do *not* have that distinction because they are both idiotic, disgraceful *hacks.*

          • The Klown says:

            There have been politicians appointed to SCOTUS, most notably among them was Earl Warren. But in recent history there have been no political hacks. Most of the appointments in the past 50 years have been appellate court justices. Many were scholars and law professors.

            You can criticize Clarence Thomas for many things, but his legal credentials are impeccable.

  8. DeniseVB says:

    Dingy Harry is no different than any other corrupt politician on both sides. The real problem is we just keep electing and re-electing them.

    Crazy Pat Robertson and his CBN empire live in my city and when election season rolls around, he gives the max to almost all the Congressional candidates(both D’s and R’s) in our state. His 50k or so investment every two years reaps millions in federal favors. Especially protection for his non-profit.

    Even when Obama was first elected I had a hope he would clean up this mess… he really, really promised to do! Tranparency! No more business as usual in DC! Hope and Change! Turns out he’s the most corrupt politician I can remember in my lifetime. He makes me miss LBJ, Nixon and Carter, at least they cared about our country.

  9. Thanks Votermom (I’m outta moderation-YEA!) I just finished commenting on an article about Sotomayor in the New Republic. Guess she thinks we should interpret the Constitution by “our feelings” now.

  10. DandyTIger says:

    Bloomberg interview about NRA, etc. Best quote:

    I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.

    It’s called religious zealotry.

  11. DeniseVB says:

    Ruh roh, Ted Cruz’s has ticked off PETA and the fauxraged left. Takes me back to Sarah and the bear skin. She didn’t apologize, neither has Ted…..

    • 49erDweet says:

      De cray-cray luv de offend-us-and-pay industry. Heap big moolah!

    • Constance says:

      But the tiger if it is real was already dead. Cruz had nothing to do with that and didn’t say people should go out and kill tigers.

      Still he must have made the day for a bunch of liberals looking for a hit of outrage.

    • Somebody says:

      OMG the comments are ridiculous. I see there are some comments saying what a lack of education Cruz has. What is it with the left that everyone with an R after their name is without question ignorant and uneducated? My lib sister went off about Cruz a while back insisting he was an uneducated hick. She was speechless when I informed her of his education, apparently the MSM is a little light on Cruz’s education and background when they bash him.

      • angienc says:

        And Cruz’s college & Harvard law school profs actually *remember* him, with the very liberal Alan Dersowitz saying Cruz is among the smartest students he’s ever had.

        Oh, and unlike Obama’s “Law Review President’ vanity title (no articles written much less published) Cruz’s debate team/moot court performances actually won him awards.

      • angienc says:

        PS — next time your lib sister bashes Cruz, don’t forget to remind her that she’s obviously bigoted against Hispanics.

    • angienc says:

      I just posted 2 comments on there — one general:

      “Wow, a lot of hate filled racism on here. What’s the matter, don’t like Hispanics, WaPo?”

      And one reply to an idiot quoting “Christ” as saying “what ever you do to the least of *these”” that includes animals, Cruz!” To tell her that it was “what ever you do to the least of my people” so it doesn’t include animals — and that I love it when godless heathens try to quote the bible. Plus I referred to her to the 1965 case of Griswold v. Conn. re: her rant about Cruz trying to deny women the right to “access” birth control and told her to learn a little something — about anything — before parroting nonsense.

      I doubt my comments will be there in a few hours, but it was fun.

  12. Propertius says:

    I think the most astounding example of corruption I can think of is Dianne Feinsteini’s husband’s deal to dispose of Post Office properties. It’s positively Third World in its brazenness.

    • DeniseVB says:

      I think Pelosi has her hands in the cookie jar too. There are so many “legal” ways to divert money and favors. In the era of 60’s and 70’s liberals, all politicians were corrupt and not to be trusted, Question Authority !!! I had hoped OWS was a resurgence of those libber roots, but no, just a bunch of bored kids from the Upper West Side pooping on stuff. Wall Street was never the problem, the politicians who line their greedy pockets are. In fact, OWS had more in common with the tea party than the current Obama policies, and to this day wondering if they were hijacked and funded by lefty interests to keep them neutered ? I’m still “waiting for it” 😉 Too bad, their balls are gone 😀

      • Propertius says:

        OWS had more in common with the tea party than the current Obama policies

        Absolutely true, which is why so much of the energy of the MSM has been dedicated to discrediting OWS from the “Right” and the Tea Party from the “Left”. The most important function of the corporate media is to keep the public divided over wedge issues so they’ll never figure out who their real enemies are.

      • angienc says:

        How about Obama — do you really think enough people *bought* his book to make him a multi-millionaire — because I guarantee they didn’t. That’s what you call a ‘money laundering scheme.”

  13. DeniseVB says:

    Unionizing college football players would have, HAVE eliminated the ladies sports to pay for those aholes’ salaries. Any college President could tell you that. The union organizers are becoming invasvise little pests, aren’t they? Sigh.

  14. helenk3 says:

    here is a followup on a story from yesterday about the criminal squatters in a deployed soldier’s home in fla

    good on the vets and the bikers

  15. DeniseVB says:

    Sidebar: I just LURVE my new twitter upgraded profile page thingy. Does it make me look seriously angry enough ?

  16. The Klown says:
  17. The Klown says:
  18. helenk3 says:

    saw clip of boehner trashing other republicans over immigration today. Since he does not have the balls or the backbone to standup to backtrack, him trashing republicans for being weak is a little bit much

Comments are closed.