Remember John Solomon? He's The Associated Press Find-Dirt-Any-Dirt-On-Harry-Reid-And-Make-It-Sound-As-Evil-As-Possible bureau chief. First, he gave us the trenchant (but since forgotten) really long story on how Harry Reid didn't do anything for Jack Abramoff. Then Solomon followed up with the at least fun (but mostly forgotten) really long story about Harry Reid's boxing match freebies. Now Solomon is at it again, this time breathlessly revealing in a really long story that Harry Reid -- gasp! -- sold land for more than he paid for it.
And people say Democrats don't know anything about bidness.
It's a complicated story, involving ownership transfers, county zoning changes that fly in the face of master development plans, and land made available for development in the first place as the result of a federal land swap. In other words, it's a typical Southern Nevada commercial real estate deal. The Harry Reid Democratic War Room and Media Message Development Center, Responds to Solomon Division, whipped up a point-by-point fact sheet disputing the story, but it looked really boring so we did our own.
Solomon's biggest gotcha, as near as we can tell, is that on Reid's Senate financial disclosure forms, Reid failed to report the transfer of his interest in the property from private ownership to a company formed with his good buddy Jay Brown. Instead, Reid continued to report it as his personal property, up until it was sold in 2004 -- a transaction which, by the way, Reid reported. And that, boys and girls, is the hook on which Solomon hangs more than 2,000 words.
How did Solomon (with an assist from local AP writer Kathleen Hennessey, who we are going to charitably assume did some reporting but had little to do with the spin-packed, chock full o' bias tone of the final product) manage to puff that up into 2,000 words? Oh, most impressively.
For instance, the story notes that "Reid paid about 74 percent of the property taxes, slightly less than his actual 75.1 ownership stake, according to canceled checks kept at the local assessor's office." What? He was paying his taxes? Gawd, Democrats can't even do a scandal right. Anyway, even the ethics expert-texpert that Solomon managed to unearth who would be willing to say something usable for the story pooh-poohed Solomon's hard-boiled investigation into the assessor's records. The expert, writes Solomon, "said the IRS might view the handling of the land taxes as undisclosed income to Reid but it was unlikely to prompt an investigation. 'If someone is paying a liability you owe, there may be some income imputed. But at that level, it's pretty small dollars, he said."
Oh. Stop the presses, etc.
Solomon also draws an incredibly flimsy connection between the land Reid and Brown owned and one of our infamous land swaps with Interior designed to accommodate breakneck development 'round here. Reid's enthusiastic role in promoting runaway growth through federal land swaps is fodder for plenty of criticism, and his overall coziness with the growth lobby generally is really more befitting of Republican behavior. But the land in question was made available, and acquired by another owner, four years before Reid bought it. Solomon as much as admits in his story that there are no connections between the land swap and the Reid deal. But he brings it up anyway, throwing everything into the story in the hope, s'pose, that something will stick...
Like the suggestion that there's something fishy about property on Patrick Lane and Fort Apache getting rezoned from residential to commercial. Yes, it's shocking to imagine that county officials would deviate from their master zoning plan, inasmuch as they only do it, well, when asked.
Finally, Reid's buddy Jay Brown is shady, Solomon says. Well, he's totally juiced up, so we don't doubt it. But you'd think Solomon, being a crack investigative reporter and all, could have dug up something better than "federal prosecutors introduced testimony at the bribery trial of former Clark County Commission chairman Dario Herrara (or Herrera, as us dumb yokels spell it) that Brown had taken money from a Las Vegas strip club owner to influence the commission." That's one way to put it. Another way to put it is when strip club king Mike Galardi took the stand in the G-sting thing, he tried to implicate just about everybody who is anybody in Southern Nevada. Galardi might have forgotten to mention Wayne Newton, but that's about it.
Hey, we like to hammer on Harry too, but for stuff that matters, like his cynical 2002 vote to give Bush a blank check on Iraq or, of course, harboring a known Republican senator in his own state.
We have no idea what Reid did to Solomon, but the AP writer is clearly never going to give up until either he finds something genuinely dirty on Reid, or his editors come to their senses, realize one of their reporters is unhealthily obsessed, and reassign him to, oh Pocatello, Idaho, so he can chill and clear his head.
Meantime, Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of the wingnut echo chamber can have a ball trying to whip up outrage over Reid and see if they can't bump Foley out of the news for a day or two by screaming about this outlandish Democratic "scandal." Somebody be sure to tell us how that works out for them.