Harry Mason Reid (born December 2 1939) is the Senior Senator United States Senate from Nevada and a member of the United States Democratic Party, for which he serves as United States Senate Minority Leader.
Early life, education, and career
Reid is a converted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a native of the small mining town of Searchlight, Nevada, where his nickname since childhood was "Pinky."Mark Leibovich Land of Hard Knocks, Washington Post July 17 2005 Reid attended Basic High School in Henderson, Nevada, where he had as a history teacher Mike O'Callaghan, who would play a prominent role in his future.
Reid received his Associate's degree from Southern Utah University in 1959 and in 1961 earned his bachelor's degree from Utah State University. He moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as an officer for the U.S. Capitol Police while attending The George Washington University Law School for his law degree. Reid graduated in 1964 and returned to Nevada to work as a lawyer before entering politics.
Nevada political positions
Reid was elected to the Nevada Legislature in 1967. He left after being elected lieutenant governor in 1970, the same year his mentor O'Callaghan was elected governor. He served in that office until 1974, when he ran for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Alan Bible. He lost by fewer than 600 votes to former Governor Paul Laxalt.
Reid then served as Nevada state Gaming Control Board from 1977 to 1981, a post which subjected him to death threats. Reid's wife once found a bomb attached to one of their cars. A character in the film Casino (movie) played by Dick Smothers is based, in part, on Reid. Jack Gordon, the manager and future husband of singer LaToya Jackson, once tried to bribe Reid. Reid allowed the FBI to tape Gordon's attempt to bribe him with $12,000, at which point Reid attempted (unsuccessfully) to strangle Gordon, saying "You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me!"Elsa Walsh "How a pro-gun, anti-abortion Nevadan leads the Senate’s Democrats". The New Yorker, August 8 2005
House of Representatives
Until the 1980 census, Nevada had only one member in the United States House of Representatives, but population growth in the 1970s resulted in as second district. Reid won the Democratic nomination for the Nevada's 1st congressional district, based in Las Vegas, in 1982, and easily won the general election. He served two terms in the House, from 1983 to 1987.
Reid was elected to the Senate in U.S. Senate election, 1986, succeeding Laxalt. He was reelected in U.S. Senate election, 1992, U.S. Senate election, 1998 and U.S. Senate election, 2004. In the 1998 race, he narrowly defeated his Republican Party (United States) opponent, future Senator John Ensign by 428 votes Nevada Secretary of State - 1998 US Senate Recount Results (Ensign won Nevada's other Senate seat in U.S. Senate election, 2000). In 2004, his Republican opponent was Richard Ziser, whom Reid defeated by a vote of 61%-35%.
In 1999, Reid became United States Senate Minority Whip, and the right hand man of Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
On November 16 2004, Reid was elected Senate Democratic Leader and Minority Leader for the 109th Congress, following Daschle's defeat in his bid for reelection to the Senate.
Actions in the Senate
When Senate Republicans threatened to invoke the nuclear option, Reid became one of the option's most fervent opponents. He threatened to virtually shut down Senate business if it were successfully invoked. However, when a group of moderate senators known as the Gang of Fourteen reached a compromise, he embraced the agreement with open arms.
During the Congressional recess of 2005, Reid suffered a "transient ischemic attack", also known as a mini-stroke. He sought medical help at the advice of his wife, Landra. A three day delay in disclosing the stroke to the press and public raised some questions.
On November 1 2005, Reid moved that the Senate go into closed session, a very unusual action. The public was removed from the Senate chambers. The move was intended to draw attention to the continuing controversy as to the inaccuracy of intelligence that claimed Iraq had been in possession of weapons of mass destruction. When he called for the closed session, Reid expressed anger that a letter signed by Democratic senators to the White House demanding such an investigation had been answered by a form letter. The move was an attempt to get around the alleged stalling by Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kansas). Roberts had promised in July of 2004 to investigate the Bush administration's misuse of intelligence before the Iraq War, but to date has not released any findings of such an investigation. During this closed session, Democrats demanded that the Republican majority finish its report on pre-war intelligence.Babington, Charles and Dafna Linzer "GOP Angered by Closed Senate Session". washingtonpost.com, November 2 2005 Republicans decried this move as a political stunt as the investigation was already well under way.Roberts blasts closed session 'stunt', CNN, November 2 2005 Reid contended that this investigation has been constantly delayed, and that this move was necessary to force an end to the delays.
On December 16, 2005, Reid told cheering Senate Democrats, "We killed the Patriot Act."
In February 2006, Reid's Press Secretary Tessa Hafen resigned her office in order to run against Republican Representative Jon Porter in the 3rd Congressional district with a strong show of support from Reid and others.
On March 22, 2006, Reid said, "We’ve been in Iraq longer than we were in World War II."
On May 18, 2006, Reid opposed an amendment to make English the national language, calling the proposal "racist," and on June 6, 2006, he opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, contrary to the pleas of his own church leaders.
In 1993, Reid reportedly said, "Our federal wallet is stretched to the limit by illegal aliens getting welfare, food stamps, medical care and other benefits without paying taxes. These programs were not meant to entice freeloaders and scam artists from around the world." However, in remarks in 2006, he characterized his anti-immigrant stance as "mostly lasting about a week or two" before coming to the more tolerant approach he favors today.
108th Congresshttp://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?r108:1490:./temp/~r1083P5IrR:: MAKING MINORITY PARTY ASSIGNMENTS -- (Senate - January 15 2003) * Committee on Appropriations * Committee on Environment and Public Works * Special Committee on Aging * Select Committee on Ethics * Committee on Indian Affairs 109th Congresshttp://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?r109:516:./temp/~r109cI0LO3:: MAKING MINORITY PARTY APPOINTMENTS TO COMMITTEES -- (Senate - January 6 2005) * Committee on Appropriations
Contacts from Jack Abramoff's lobbying firm
In the wake of the 2006 corruption conviction of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, media criticism led over four dozen Congressmen, as well as President George W. Bush, to return campaign donations associated with Abramoff. Reid did not receive any contributions from Abramoff, but Reid had contact with clients and lobbying partners of Abramoff, and Reid's campaign received over $60,000 in contributions from these groups, including about $50,000 from Native Americans in the United States casino interests. Several times, Native American tribes that were clients of Jack Abramoff donated money to Reid after Reid's votes produced favorable results for the tribes. According to an Associated Press article, "Reid collected donations around the time of each action. Ethics rules require senators to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in collecting contributions around the times they take official acts benefiting donors." Among dozens of contacts between Abramoff's lobbying team and Reid's office, were several discussions about a bill to raise the minimum wage of the Northern Mariana Islands.Lobbyist Minimizes Talks With Reid's Staff, Associated Press,February 11 2006John Solomon, and Sharon Theimer " Probe links Reid, lobbyist". The Associated Press, February 12 2006 Reid supported the bill, which Abramoff's clients opposed.
Reid said that the contributions and contacts were legal and his actions were proper. He also described the Abramoff affair as "a Republican scandal," referring to Abramoff's felony conviction for making illegal contributions to Republican Congressman Bob Ney and his close affiliation with the Republican K Street Project.Lobbyist Confirms Talks With Reid's Office, The Associated Press, February 11 2006 A spokesman said that Reid had never met Abramoff personally, that neither Reid nor his campaign has ever received money directly from Abramoff, and that his legislative work was done on behalf of his Nevadan constituents.
In May 2006, John Solomon (journalist) of the Associated Press erroneously reported that Reid had accepted free tickets valued at hundreds of dollars each for three boxing matches between 2003 and 2005 from the Nevada Athletic Commission, though it was later reported that Reid had in fact received "credentials" intended specifically for public officials, which, not being retail tickets, have no selling price. At that time and afterwards, Reid, a former amateur middleweight boxer and boxing judge, supported legislation to create a federal boxing commission, which had the potential to dilute the state commission's authority. After receiving the tickets, Reid voted for the legislation, which was opposed by the state commission.
Senate ethics rules permit gifts from such governmental agencies, but advise caution "where it appears" that the gift is an attempt to influence, and also state that repeatedly taking otherwise permitted gifts should be avoided. A former House ethics lawyer said that it would have been "the more cautious thing, the more prudent thing" for Reid to have paid for the credentials or refused them. However, the promoter of the fights said that it would have been illegal for Reid to have paid for the credentials.
When this issue first became public, Reid was unapologetic "In an interview Thursday in his Capitol office, Reid defended his decisions to accept the tickets.
"I'm not goody-two-shoes. I just feel these events are nothing I did wrong," Reid said.", as reported in the Reno News.
Reid agreed that he accepted the free seats, saying that attending the fights was necessary for him to understand the potential effects of federal oversight, and denied that he had acted unethically. A spokesman later said, "In light of questions that have been raised about the practice, Senator Reid will not accept these kinds of credentials in the future in order to avoid even the faintest appearance of impropriety." http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/politics/3918927.html
Las Vegas land deal
Harry Reid collected $1.1 million on land he owned through a limited liability company (LLC). In 1998 Reid bought a plot of land for $400,000. One of the sellers was a developer who arranged a land swap that Reid supported. In 2001, he transferred title of the land to the LLC in exchange for a $400,000 equivalent ownership percentage of the LLC. When the LLC sold the land, Reid made a profit.
The deal was structured by long-time friend and former casino attorney Jay Brown,http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/10/17/reid_plans_to_amend_ethics_form_on_land_sale/. Reid's failure to disclose the earlier sale to a company owned by a friend and his subsequent ownership interest in the company violates Senate rules according to former Federal Election Commission overseer Kent Cooper. In addition, Brown paid a small portion of Reid's taxes on the ownership stake. Reid continued to report to Congress that he still owned the land for 3 years after he transferred title to the LLC he partially owned.Reid Land Deal Under Scrutiny Washington Post October 12, 2006
Reid directed his staff to amend the 2001 financial disclosure forms to reflect the transfer of title to the LLC. He also disclosed two other land transactions on the amended reports.
On October 17, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Reid had used campaign donations to pay for $3,300 in Christmas gifts to the staff at the condominium where he resides.http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-10-17-reid-christmas-bonuses_x.htm?csp=34 Federal election law prohibits candidates from using political donations for personal use. Reid's staff stated that his attorneys had approved use of the funds in this manner but that he nonetheless would personally reimburse his campaign for the expenses. That action notwithstanding, the Conservative group Citizens United announced it had filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission to investigate the matter.http://www.hillnews.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/Frontpage/101806/reidbrief.html
Opinions, beliefs and personal traits
Harry Reid is pro-life, and he was a co-sponsor of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, which set new rules and restrictions on abortion rights protesters. He has voted on numerous occasions for the ban on partial-birth abortions, and in 2003 he supported substitute language that would have banned all late-term abortions, while allowing exceptions for the life and health of the woman involved. Although Reid received a 100% rating from NARAL in 2001, and from 1995-2004 voted with the interests of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association 69% of the time, in 2003 and 2004, Reid received 29% and 20% ratings, respectively, from NARAL Pro-Choice America. In 2005, Reid proposed that Bush name one of four fervently pro-life Republican senators — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina , Mike DeWine of Ohio, Mel Martinez of Florida, or Mike Crapo of Idaho — to fill the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor.
Reid voted against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, nominated to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist on the latter's death.
Reid also opposes many free trade agreements, particularly NAFTA.http://reid.senate.gov/labor/index.cfm#keeping On fiscal matters, Reid voted against the Balanced Budget Amendment and opposes the tax cuts passed since Bush took office.
Reid has a mixed record on gun politics, voting against the ban on semi-automatic firearms and in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, but in favor of the Brady Bill and background checks at gun shows. Reid is a strong supporter of the death penalty, having voted in favor of limiting death penalty appeals and executing criminals who were minors when they committed their crime. He voted to authorize War in Iraq in 1991 and 2003.
Reid fueled the Valerie Plame affair when he
said on the floor of the Senate that the leak "put this agent’s life in jeopardy". http://www.factcheck.org/article337.html
Reid made headlines in May 2005 when he said of George W. Bush, in front of a group of schoolchildren, "The man's father is a wonderful human being. I think this guy is a loser." Reid later apologized for these comments. Reid also called Supreme Court of the United States Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Clarence Thomas an "embarrassment" John Solomon, and Sharon Theimer "Reid Aided Abramoff Clients, Records Show". The Associated Press, February 9 2006 and referred to Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan as a "partisan hack."
Reid is married to Landra Gould, a Mormon convert from Judaism. They have five children, one of whom is an elected Commissioner for Clark County, Nevada.
Reid had a cameo role in the movie Traffic (2000 film).
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/