Harry Reid’s Duke Cunningham Deal

The LA Times has a fascinating breakdown of Harry Reid’s crooked, sweetheart land deal.

“It’s hard to buy undeveloped land in booming northern Arizona for $166 an acre. But now-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid effectively did just that when a longtime friend decided to sell property owned by the employee pension fund that he controlled.

In 2002, Reid (D-Nev.) paid $10,000 to a pension fund controlled by Clair Haycock, a Las Vegas lubricants distributor and his friend for 50 years. The payment gave the senator full control of a 160-acre parcel in Bullhead City that Reid and the pension fund had jointly owned. Reid’s price for the equivalent of 60 acres of undeveloped desert was less than one-tenth of the value the assessor placed on it at the time.

Six months after the deal closed, Reid introduced legislation to address the plight of lubricants dealers who had their supplies disrupted by the decisions of big oil companies. It was an issue the Haycock family had brought to Reid’s attention in 1994, according to a source familiar with the events.

If Reid were to sell the property for any of the various estimates of its value, his gain on the $10,000 investment could range from $50,000 to $290,000.”

…In the early 1990s, California investors bought the entire 160 acres from Reid and Haycock for a little over $1.34 million — around $8,400 an acre. The new owners obtained approval to develop a mobile home and recreational vehicle park. But a few years later they defaulted, and Reid and the pension fund were once again the land’s joint owners.

…On a recent property tour, the assessor acknowledged that Reid’s land had problems.

“There are topographical issues on this property,” Nicholson said as he drove a county-owned four-wheel-drive vehicle through the tract. He pointed out the property’s steep wash and another streambed.

An adjacent parcel with similar topography sold in April 2004 for $4,260 an acre.

So Haycock sells Reid land at a tiny fraction of its worth so that Reid can later sell the land at an enormous profit. Then, as payback, Reid introduces legislation that directly benefits his friend. That’s Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff style corruption and if a Republican were involved, not only would he be resigning his seat, he’d probably end up going to jail.

In fact, do you know what the biggest difference between Duke Cunningham and Harry Reid is? Reid will probably get away with it.

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