Harry Reid Has Another Tribal Tie

In November, the Associated Press reported that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) sent a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton on March 5, 2002, asking that she block the opening of a tribal casino that two of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s Indian-tribe clients wanted blocked because it would compete with their nearby casinos. The next day Reid’s Searchlight Leadership Fund received $5,000 from one of the Abramoff clients, the Louisiana Coushatta tribe.

Now, Congressional Quarterly reports that Reid’s former legislative counsel, Edward Ayoob, joined Abramoff’s then-law firm, Greenberg Traurig, in March 2002, and that some of Ayoob’s clients at the firm were Indian tribes. "Democrats have taken a special interest in Ayoob’s clients," reported CQ. "Of the eight tribes Ayoob represented when he was with Greenberg Traurig, Reid acted in behalf of or moved legislation benefiting six." One case involved a casino controversy. "He [Reid] intervened, for example, to block other Democrats from opening a casino in Michigan, noting that other tribes in the state — Ayoob’s clients — would suffer," CQ noted. "Ayoob gave $51,333 to Democrats since 2002, including $4,000 to Reid in 2003, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Tribes represented by Abramoff or Ayoob also gave Reid $30,500 since 1999, according to the Center." Announcing a Democratic ethics reform package last week, Reid told reporters, "This is a Republican scandal and they can try to spin-doctor it. … Eddie Ayoob didn’t work for Jack Abramoff, he worked for a 1,000-member law firm."