Tuesday, May 30, 2006

"Culture of corruption" strikes Reid...again

It was one thing for Harry Reid (Hypocrite-NV) to write letters on behalf of Abramoff clients while criticizing the GOP for accepting donations and gifts from the same Abramoff. This, however, is pretty darned rich. From the Washington comPost:
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.

Reid took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.
It seems unethical, or at the very least, unsavory, to accept gifts from someone who has a vested interest how you intend to vote on their pet issue. As a matter of fact...:
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.

"Senators and Senate staff should be wary of accepting any gift where it appears that the gift is motivated by a desire to reward, influence, or elicit favorable official action," the Senate ethics manual states. It cites the 1990s example of an Oregon lawmaker who took gifts for personal use from a South Carolina state university and its president while that school was trying to influence his official actions.

"Repeatedly taking gifts which the Gifts Rule otherwise permits to be accepted may, nonetheless, reflect discredit upon the institution, and should be avoided," the manual states.
Keep in mind that I did get a TN public school education, but despite that, I can read reasonably well...and nowhere do I happen to see where the Senate rules apply to Republicans only. If someone can point that out to me, I would greatly appreciate it.

So how did a couple of Republican Senators handle the situation?
Two senators who joined Reid for fights with the complimentary tickets took markedly differently steps.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) insisted on paying $1,400 for the tickets he shared with Reid for a 2004 championship fight. Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) accepted free tickets to another fight with Reid but already had recused himself from Reid's federal boxing legislation because his father was an executive for a Las Vegas hotel that hosts fights.
The article goes on to mention Reid's connection with Abramoff clients, and how Reid used his office and power to act on behalf of said Abramoff clients. Reid, however, gets a bit defensive about these things:
Reid defended his actions, stating he would never change his position because of donations, free tickets or a request from a former staffer turned lobbyist.

"People who deal with me and have over the years know that I am an advocate for what I believe in. I always try to do it fair, never take advantage of people on purpose," he said.
In other words, when Reid accepts gifts from or acts on behalf of lobbyists or their clients, it's just a coincidence...after all, he "just so happened" to already have his beliefs in place and was acting accordingly. Funny that he never attributes such a similar steadfast sense of fairness, conviction, and advocacy to one's beliefs to his Republican counterparts, huh?

"They're corrupt for doing the things that I do, because unlike them, I actually do these things out of conscience. They don't!" Got it. Thanks for the clarification, Harry.