In a repeat of the same crime that sent Jesse Jackson Jr. to prison, according to reports, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s campaign paid his granddaughter more than $31,000 (up from a previous total of nearly $17,000) for “holiday gifts” to give to supporters and staff. Those gifts turned out to be jewelry made by Sen. Reid’s granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid, and Sen. Reid attempted to cover it up in a mandatory disclosure document by omitting her last name (Reid). Shortly after the story began circulating, Sen. Reid defended the arrangement but announced he would personally reimburse the campaign. Yesterday, Reid Said the scandal was “done” after he returned the $17,000. Not so fast.
The five-term senator’s ability to help his relatives may extend well beyond $31,000 for jewelry. “Ryan Elisabeth,” a recent college graduate, describes herself as a “performing arts professional.” In addition to her jewelry company — which is not mentioned on her LinkedIn profile — she also works as an assistant at the Tim Bavington Studio in Las Vegas and as artistic director at Sprat Theatre Company in Brooklyn, N.Y. (a company which she founded). Sprat received financial support from two Nevada-based foundations that typically prohibit donations to organizations outside of their service areas. The foundations belong to gaming and energy companies that have also donated to Sen. Reid, according to Adam O’Neil’s report in Real Clear Politics, which should raise some eyebrows.
The story may dissipate unless the Federal Election Commission finds that the gifts were not, as rules require, so “nominal.” But the stench remains — grandpa gives granddaughter money from campaign to give gifts (which Sen. Reid’s office won’t itemize or describe). And the granddaughter gets to keep the money, whether it came from the campaign or from her grandfather, as it should have in the first place.
Hey but nothing to see here. Move along.