THE (IN)CORRUPTIBILITY OF...

THE (IN)CORRUPTIBILITY OF HARRY REID. On Harry Reid and the case of the comp boxing tickets, this is about as fully a non-story as you can imagine. The lay of the land went something like this: Reid was offering legislation to increase federal regulation of boxing. The Nevada Athletic Agency, concerned the new body would usurp their authority, gave him ringside seats to three matches, where officials from the NAA presumably pressured him on the bill. Reid watched, listened, and then voted for his legislation -- exactly what the NAA had been hoping to head off.

Efforts to make this into an issue are reminiscent of a similar campaign conducted when Jack Abramoff's fame was peaking. During that furor, various outlets tried to make hay out of a meeting between Reid's staff and an Abramoff-connected lobbyist over attempts to impose the minimum wage in the Marianas Islands. Abramoff was trying to stop the legislation, he deployed a lobbyist to see if he could enlist Reid's help, and Reid promptly voted against Abramoff and for the imposition of the minimum wage. Indeed, the two events follow the same pattern: interested parties try to influence Reid, he promptly votes against their interests.

In any case, Reid, I'd guess, is pretty well inoculated against charges that he's an easy mark for bribery. Back in the late '70s, when he served on Nevada's Gaming Commission, a ride manufacturer tried to bribe him into approving two carnival-like devices for use in casinos. Reid informed the FBI, donned a wire for the sting, but, when shown the money, lost his temper and started choking the briber until the agents rushed in and pulled him off. As Neil notes, if only we had video footage of that transaction. Even so, we do have the record, and it fits rather well with Reid's history. Folks try to bribe him, and he either merrily votes against their interests or physically assaults them. Would that all senators were so corrupt.

--Ezra Klein

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