Skip to comments.Harry’s Henchman Rory Reid: Harry Reid’s Mob Money, Part 2
Posted on 01/26/2006 8:45:41 AM PST by Fedora
Harrys Henchman Rory Reid
Harry Reids Mob Money, Part 2
Mr. Cleanfaces Dirty Laundry: Harry Reids Mob Money revisited a 1979 Justice Department probe into allegations that Midwestern Mafia members skimming funds from the Tropicana casino had channeled bribes to Nevada Gaming Commission chairman Harry Reid through mob lawyer Oscar Goodman and Tropicana attorney Jay H. Brown. Although the probe officially cleared Reid, he subsequently received numerous contributions from gambling industry figures, including Brown and known Mafia-associates as well as legitimate individuals and corporations. Reids son Rory has followed in his footsteps by associating with his fathers patrons in the gambling industry, which is the subject of this post.
The Reids, Jay H. Brown, and Indian casino gambling
In 1988 Senator Reid supported the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which sought to limit competition to Las Vegas casinos from Indian counterparts. At that time Reid publicly portrayed himself as a protector of the Las Vegas gambling industry from Indian gambling competitors.
Meanwhile, however, the Senators son and Jay Brown acquired stock in American Enterprises, Inc. (renamed American Casino Enterprises, Inc. in 1993 and American Vantage Companies in 1997), a company which operated the Table Mountain Casino on an Indian reservation near Fresno, California. In July 1991 Brown--who had just donated $2,000 to Senator Reid that June--acquired 833,333 shares of American Enterprises stock, representing approximately 7.5% of the companys outstanding shares, with warrants to purchase an additional 972,222 shares, all for $150,000. Brown became American Enterprises resident agent, and the next month he sold Circus Circus executive Mike Sloan 100,000 American Enterprises shares at 10 cents a share. At the same time Browns mother Florence S. Brown purchased 500,000 shares, Browns secretary Carol Caldwell purchased 120,000 shares, and Rory Reid purchased 5,000 shares.
After this was reported in December 1991, Sloan and Reid quickly announced they were divesting their shares. Reids father told the press he did not own any stock in American Enterprises and distanced himself from his sons dealings by saying, My son is 30 years old, he is a lawyer and his practice is almost totally in gaming. I don't control where he lives, who he marries, or what he buys.
Despite Reids expressed lack of interest in his sons business dealings, American Enterprises successor expressed an interest in Senator Reid: in July 1995 the Senator received contributions of $2,000 each from American Casino Enterprises officers Brown (who has contributed to Reid regularly since 1982), Ronald Tassinari, Audrey Tassinari, Jeanne Hood, and Karl Rogers. (Also, in December 1996 Reid received $2,000 from Robert Tassinari of New Yorks Tasin & Company, Inc., a company accused of securities fraud in 1999 and fined and suspended from the NASD for failure to comply with a formal request to submit financial information in 2001.) Meanwhile from 1994 to 1996 American Casino Enterprises was a defendant in a legal dispute involving Table Mountain Casino, which ended with American Casino agreeing to pay a $500,000 civil fine for violating the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The Reids and Lady Luck Gaming Corporation
After his involvement with American Enterprises, Rory Reids association with gambling industry contributors to his fathers campaigns continued. Since 1989 Harry Reid has received at least $29,000 from associates of Andrew Tompkins Lady Luck Gaming Corporation, which besides running the third-largest casino in downtown Las Vegas has operated hotel-casinos in Natchez, Tunica, and Biloxi, Mississippi, and Central City, Colorado. From 1994 to 2000 Rory Reid was an officer and general counsel for Lady Luck. In his capacity as a Lady Luck officer he signed an agreement with the US Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in August 1999 stating that Lady Luck agreed to pay a $115,000 civil money penalty in return for FinCEN not pressing charges related to Lady Lucks failure to file at least 25 forms for currency transactions in an amount greater than $10,000 in 1993.
The Reids, Lionel Sawyer & Collins, and Steve Wynn
After leaving Lady Luck, Rory Reid rejoined the law firm Lionel Sawyer & Collins, which has also employed his brothers Leif, Josh, and Key.
Lionel Sawyer & Collins is the largest law firm in the state of Nevada, and its Reno managing partner Frederick Harvey Whittemore is considered one of Nevadas top lobbyists. Whittemore and his firms clients have included casino mogul Steve Wynn, one of the most powerful figures in the gambling industry and Nevada politics. A 1983 Scotland Yard report identified Wynn as a front man for the Genovese Mafia family, linking Wynn and his father to Genovese associates Anthony Fat Tony Salerno and Jerome Zarowitz and noting Wynn and his Golden Nugget casinos links to drug dealers Neil Assinaro, Louis Cappiello, and Michael Jones. The report also discussed links between Wynns Golden Nugget partners Ed and Fred Doumani, Chicago Mafia representative Tony Cusumano, and Kansas City Mafia representative Joe Agosto.
As recounted in Part 1, Agosto had been overheard by the FBI in the late 1970s boasting that he had in his pocket Mr. Cleanface, which he later explained was his nickname for Nevada Gaming Commission chairman Harry Reid. Reids subsequent financial patronage is consistent with this. Federal Election Commission reports show that Steve Wynn and other members of the Wynn family associated with the Golden Nugget and Mirage gave contributions totalling $10,000 to Senator Reid in 1991 and 1998. Between 1989 and 2005 Reids leading contributions, totalling $158,450, came from what is now called MGM Mirage, a company formed from a 2000 merger between properties owned by Wynn and Kirk Kerkorian (who has also contributed to Reid). During this same 1989-2005 interval Wynns legal ally Lionel Sawyer & Collins contributed $72,516 to Senator Reid and employed four of Reids sons.
Meanwhile, in January 2003 Rory Reid became Clark County Commissioner. Reid simultaneously sat on the Clark County Liquor and Gaming Licensing Board. In those capacities, due to his links to Lionel Sawyer & Collins, he was forced to abstain from a March 2005 vote to approve gaming and liquor licenses for Wynn Las Vegas, Wynns latest megaresort venture, opened on the former site of the Desert Inn run by mobster Moe Dalitz, another contributor to Reids father. Prior to abstaining, Reid congratulated Wynn, who was approved unanimously.
The Reids, Lionel Sawyer & Collins, and the Nevada Resort Association
Rory Reids work for Lionel Sawyer & Collins has also involved work for the Nevada Resort Association, a lobbying group representing the interests of the casino industry. The Association has paid Lionel Sawyer & Collins an undisclosed amount for Rory and his brother Leif to represent them. Meanwhile since 1989 Senator Reid has received several contributions from Paul Bible, brother of National Resort Association President Bill Bible (both sons of Nevada Senator Alan Bible, protege of Senator Pat McCarran, whose relationship to Moe Dalitz inspired the character of the corrupt Senator in Godfather II). Senator Reid has supported the gambling industry on such issues as restricting Indian casinos and opposing a ban on college sports betting.
The Reids, the Nevada Democratic Party, and Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman
Over the course of the Reids service to the gambling industry, Rory has joined his father as a dominant figure in the Nevada Democratic Party. Rory Reid served as Chairman of the Nevada Democratic Party from May 1999 to May 2001, before he assumed his present post of Clark County Commissioner.
During Reids term as Nevada Democratic Party Chairman, on October 16, 2000, the Nevada Democratic Party received a $25,000 contribution from the Oscar Goodman PAC, named for Oscar Goodman, the mob lawyer probed on suspicion of channeling Mafia funds to Harry Reid in 1979. Goodman had been elected Mayor of Las Vegas in 1999, and was reelected in 2003. As Mayor, Goodman has continued to fraternize with his former clients and their associates, including associates of the same Mafia families behind the Tropicana casino skimming operation that prompted the 1979 probe of Reid; he has done political favors for Mafia-connected strip clubs involved in a recent FBI probe of political corruption (for instance, when a strip club run by a friend of one of Goodmans former Mafia clients wanted to expand into another building in the same shopping center and the present owner refused to move, the strip-club owner solicited Goodmans help in pressuring the owner to move through means such as selectively enforcing city fire codes against the owners parking lot and having the police ticket the owners customers); and he has accepted reelection campaign contributions of $31,500 from strip-club owners and $1.5 million from a mob-connected friend. Meanwhile Goodmans sons have taken over his criminal law practice, which Goodman has used his office to promote.
Goodmans career is in turn being promoted by Harry Reid. In January 2006 Goodman and the Senator discussed the possibility of Goodman running for Senate, with Reid lauding Goodman to the press as a very, very strong candidate.
The Reids, Campaign Finance Loopholes, and Family Favors
If Goodman were to run, what role might the Reids play in his campaign? Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 Senator Harry Reid and anyone who qualifies as his agent is theoretically ineligible to raise soft money for candidates. However after Rory Reid became Clark County Commissioner, he asked the Federal Election Commission to declare him unrestrained by this restriction on his father, arguing that he is not legally a fundraising agent of his father. Republican response to this ruling was divided, with some unconcerned, some anticipating further legal clarification from future rulings, and others complaining, To have a county commissioner go before properties on the Strip and ask for unlimited soft money for the state Democratic Party when his father is at the top of the ticket sends a message.
The message seems to be that even if Rory Reid does not qualify as Harry Reids fundraising agent in the limited sense defined by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, he still serves as his fathers agent in the practical sense of being in a position to shape state and local events on behalf of his father and his fathers financial patrons.
For instance, in early 2005 the elder Reid reportedly exercised some behind-the-scenes arm twisting in order to help his son take public credit for negotiating an agreement between the Southern Nevada Water Authority (where Rory Reid sits on the board of directors), the Nevada Power Company, and the Colorado River Commission. Nevada Power Company Chairman Walter Higgins and Colorado River Commission Chairman Richard Bunker had both contributed to Senator Reid.
An investigative report by Los Angeles Times reporters Chuck Neubauer and Richard Cooper cited over 20 similar instances involving Senator Reid, either Rory Reid or other members of the Reid family, and special interest groups representing gambling, real estate, mining, and other areas. Over a four-year period from 1999 to 2003, the authors found, the Reid familys various firms collected more than $2 million in lobbying fees from special interests that were represented by the kids and helped by the senator in Washington.
So for someone who isnt his fathers agent, Rory Reid sure does a good impression of being his fathers henchman.
American Vantage Companies Court Action Dismissed By California Superior Court. Business Wire. April 25, 2001, 1.
American Vantage Companies Appeal Upheld by California Court of Appeals. Business Wire. October 10, 2002, 1.
American Vantage Cos. Announces Termination of Contract With Table Mountain Rancheria Casino & Bingo. Business Wire. May 20, 1999, 1.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B. Family Feud: Whose tribe is it anyway? From Look whos cashing in at Indian casinos: HINT: Its not the people who are supposed to benefit. An Investigative Report. Time. Volume 160, Number 25, December 16, 2002.
Batt, Tony. FEC rules Rory Reid can raise soft money. Las Vegas Review-Journal. June 13, 2003, 2B.
-------------. Rory Reid seeks campaign finance law clarification. Las Vegas Review-Journal. April 11, 2003, 9B.
Carpenter, Amanda B. Harry Reid Takes Gambling Money, Protects Gambling Interests. Human Events Online. January 17, 2006. http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=11643
County OKs Wynn Licenses, Gambling Machine, March 24, 2005, http://www.gamblingmagazine.com/ManageArticle.asp?C=480&A=14047
Cox, Don. Nevadas most powerful lobbyist? Just call him Harvey. Reno Gazette-Journal. May 13, 2001. http://www.rgj.com/cgi-bin/printstory.cgi?publish_date=20010513&story=989788131
Doyle, Michael. $500,000 fine for firm that guided Indian casino tribe: Will pay smaller fee to company in future. The Sacramento Bee. February 2, 1996, B4.
------------------. Casino firm accepts fine, gives tribe bigger role. The Fresno Bee. February 2, 1996, B1.
Federal Election Commission. Data on Reid, Harry and Reed, Harry Mason. Online organized alphabetically by contributor at http://www.newsmeat.com/campaign_contributions_to_politicians/donor_list.php?candidate_id=S6NV00028 and http://www.newsmeat.com/campaign_contributions_to_politicians/donor_list.php?candidate_id=H2NV01033 ; also available at http://www.opensecrets.org/
Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinion Number 2003-10. http://ao.nictusa.com/ao/no/030010.html
Federal Election Commission Public Hearing. Tuesday, May 17, 2005, 10:00 AM. www.fec.gov/pdf/nprm/cand_solicitation_party/20050517hearing.pdf
Galvan, Louis. Casino firm will appeal fine: Table Mountain Rancheria Casino denies violating law. The Fresno Bee. April 22, 1995, B2.
Gaming suit dismissed. The Fresno Bee. August 11, 1995, C1.
Hopkins, A.D. Indian gaming critic buys stock. Las Vegas Review-Journal. December 6, 1991, 1A.
Green, Michael. Backstory: Making the deal. Las Vegas Mercury. February 24, 2005. http://www.lasvegasmercury.com/2005/MERC-Feb-24-Thu-2005/25907620.html
Hlavasa, Michael. Lady Luck announces key nominations for board of directors. PR Newswire. March 30, 1994, Section 1, Page 1.
Knapp, George. Big money, big names at stake in Ivanpah airport suit Las Vegas Mercury. February 24, 2005. http://www.lasvegasmercury.com/2005/MERC-Feb-24-Thu-2005/25918511.html
-------------------. Rory Reid works magic to forge peace among utility combatants Las Vegas Mercury. February 17, 2005. http://www.lasvegasmercury.com/2005/MERC-Feb-17-Thu-2005/25875726.html
Kulin, Dan. Firms use of mayors name is questioned. Las Vegas Sun. September 21, 2004. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/2004/sep/21/517545405.html
LaVelle, Philip J. Campaign game is unique in freewheeling Sin City. The San Diego Union-Tribune. May 31, 2003. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/probe/20030531-9999_1n31topless.html
Miller, Steve. Until late last week, no evil deed went un-rewarded in the new Las Vegas: These pictures tell it all. Follow the...$$$...trail. April 5, 2004. AmericanMafia.com. http://www.americanmafia.com/Inside_Vegas/4-5-04_Inside_Vegas.html
----------------. Vegas mayor accused of helping mob associate as payback for past (and present) client referrals. December 29, 2003. AmericanMafia.com. http://www.americanmafia.com/Inside_Vegas/12-29-03_Inside_Vegas.html
----------------. The Wynns, and what they may not want us to know. May 2, 2005. AmericanMafia.com. http://www.americanmafia.com/Inside_Vegas/5-2-05_Inside_Vegas.html
Morrison, Jane Ann. Indian gaming stockholders are divesting. Las Vegas Review-Journal. December 10, 1991, 1A.
-----------------------. Reids son seeks Democratic party post. Las Vegas Review-Journal. April 6, 1999, 4B.
-----------------------. Reputed organized crime associate among Goodman guests: Mayor makes no apologies for inviting to daughter's engagement party man listed in Nevada Black Book. Las Vegas Review-Journal. March 17, 2003. http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2003/Mar-17-Mon-2003/news/20878782.html
-----------------------. Rory Reid officially announces commission seat candidacy. Las Vegas Review-Journal. October 18, 2001, 1B.
NASD Notices to Members: 1999: Disciplinary Actions: December: Tasin & Company, Inc. (CRD #30709, Hauppauge, New York). NASD Case #C10990183.
Neubauer, Chuck and Cooper, Richard T. Family ties: Nevada senators family excels in lucrative ties. Journal-Gazette. Part 2 of 2. Fort Wayne, Indiana: July 6, 2003, 4A.
--------------------------------------------------. The Senators Sons: In Nevada, the Name to Know is Reid; Members of one lawmaker's family represent nearly every major industry in their home state. And their clients rely on his goodwill. Los Angeles Times. Part 2 of 2. June 23, 2003, A1.
Nevada State Democratic Party. Political Party & Committee Sponsored By Political Party Campaign Contributions: Report Period Number 2: Contributions in Excess of $100 or, When Added Together Exceed $100. Online at http://sos.state.nv.us/000Contributions_and_Expenses_and_Financial_Disclosures/0002000_Election_Reports/001Political_Parties_and_Committees_Sponsored_by_Political_Parties/000NEVADA_STATE_DEMOCRATIC_PARTY/000Period_2__Detail_01.pdf See Page 10.
Riley, Brendan. Reid: Las Vegas Mayor Discusses Senate Bid. Las Vegas Sun. January 3, 2006. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/nevada/2006/jan/03/010310016.html
Securities & Exchange Commission vs. Larry F. Smath et al. Litigation Release No. 16047 (January 27, 1999).
Smith, John L. Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous Times of Las Vegas Casino King Steve Wynn.. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001 (New York: Barricade Books, 1995).
Southern Nevada Water Authority. SNWA, CRC and Nevada Power announce cooperative business accord. February 10, 2005. http://www.snwa.com/html/news_power_info.html
Tartikoff, Del. Top FBI Agent Describes: Nevada Pols and Mob Links. Electric Nevada. http://www.electricnevada.com/pages96/mob1.htm
United States Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. In the matter of Lady Luck, Mississippi, Inc. d/b/a Lady Luck Natchez. http://www.fincen.gov/reg_enforcement.html
Vogel, Ed. State Democratic leader hires on with top lobbyist. Las Vegas Review-Journal. February 7, 2001, 4B.
Young, Linda. Natchez Hopes This Riverboat Casino Will Be The Lucky One. The Mississippi Business Journal. Volume 14, Issue 8, April 6, 1992, Section 1, Page 9.
Makes you wonder if Harry Reid was behind the initial revelations of Jack Abramoff's lucrative representation of the Indian tribes. He gets a twofer - the tribes' lobbying activities are crippled, which helps his Vegas mob patrons, and he pins a scandal on the Republicans to take the heat off himself. With his connections, it would have been easy to set up a middleman to feed the Washington Post all the dirt on Abramoff and the tribes.
Excellent work! Thank you.
Link to Part 1 HERE
Reid is about as dirty as they come.
Interesting idea. I hadn't considered that possibility--will look into it--but it does seem clear he's been doing damage control in Abramoff-related matters, at a minimum.
newsmind.org has a very interesting article, "The Senator's Sons, about Reid inserting legislation which rewarded his sons and other relatives. Conflict of interest? Nawwwwwwwh.
By which I mean, "damage control" in the sense of trying to steer the Abramoff inquiry away from his own role and towards the political opposition.
Well done, sir. Thank you.
Ping in response to your question about Reid's son from the other thread--thanks for mentioning that.
Generally very good work with your research. I agree that the Reid family is as crooked as they come.
However, that being said, I don't necessarily agree with your painting Rory Reid, acting on behalf of Lady Luck, in doing anything particularly shady with respect to signing the settlement with FinCEN for the 25 unfiled currency transaction reporting forms. Most casino companies that have run into this problem (i.e. failure to file the forms) typically settle their fines with the Federal government for much less than the full penalty (e.g. MGM MIRAGE back in 2003 and Station Casinos in 2003 or 2004--I can't quite remember off the top of my head). It would only make sense that as legal counsel for Lady Luck, Rory would have been heavily involved the settlement--it's not an uncommon thing for any casino's legal counsel to do. It doesn't mean the casinos that run into this problem are intentionally trying to break the law. Usually it means that someone wasn't properly supervising their Reg. 6A Compliance Specialist whose job it is to ensure that these CTRs are filed correctly. I'm not saying that the casinos don't break the law if they fail to follow it, but I'm just saying that this particular point you are making usually doesn't originate due to an intention to break the law.
Thanks for your comments. Yes, I'm not automatically assuming there was any intent to break the law in that instance, and I tried to word myself accordingly to leave that open (I'm posting this in the hope that someone with better resources than I can investigate some of these topics further and perhaps find information I'm not aware of, and they may well conclude there was no wrongdoing there). That may be consistent with a regular practice. However in this particular case I do wonder if there was a quid pro quo involved due to the peculiarity of this situation where the legal counsel was also the son of a Senator lobbied by the industry and contributed to by the company in question. In either case Rory Reid's relationship to Lady Luck was an important chapter in the history of his relationship to the casino industry so I wanted to cover it.
Fair enough. One can certainly question his involvement, given how shady the family generally is. But one has to also understand that Las Vegas, though considered a relatively large city, is still a very "small town." Everyone knows everyone and there are a lot of close ties between people in the casino industry and every other major profession in Nevada. Believe me when I say that to the outsider, virtually every legal transaction made by the gaming industry would appear to be a conflict of interest because the entire economy of this town (and possibly the rest of the state) is driven by the gaming industry. You won't find this is the case anywhere else in the country--at least not to the same extent.
I also just wanted to make sure that people understand that, for the most part, FinCEN violations are generally pretty common in the casino industry (not just in Nevada) due to the huge amount of cash transactions that flow through them--there are bound to be oversights.
Still, I appreciate all of the research efforts you have made. It certainly does shed light on the need for further insight.
But Harry is a member in good standing, how could this be.
Your point is well-taken and I agree with the need to point things like that out to put things in perspective. Thanks for providing some informed commentary on that.
Incidentally another thing about Lady Luck I'd mention is the fact that it was doing business outside Las Vegas as well, so the economics and politics of other regions where it was doing business are also factors to consider. Lady Luck's venture into Mississippi was part of a broader expansion of the casino industry into that region in the 1990s. This hasn't gotten as much attention as the expansion of the Indian casino business during that period but I find it equally interesting, and I wonder what state and national politics were involved in that.
Well, well, well
Great work. I had read that reid's son or sons was/were dirty, but didn't know any details.
The answer to your question as to how extensive the state and national politics are involved in the granting of casino licenses is--it depends according to the jurisdiction. In Nevada, for instance, it's very little. Anyone who applies for a license, can pass the background check and can prove to the Gaming Control Board theirs would be a viable business, would be able to get the license. However, in certain states, particularly the Midwestern gaming jurisdictions like Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, etc., there are a limited number of gaming licenses available--often this is because the restriction was legislated in order to address the social concerns over even legalizing gaming in the state in the first place. Therefore, there is certainly the greater likelihood of politics playing a role in who gets the license.
In the case of Lady Luck, fortunately the entrance into Mississippi is relatively easy--i.e. the licensing process (and entire internal control structure for that matter) generally follows Nevada's system as it was modeled after it. The only really messy part of MS licensing is that currently a casino must be a "riverboat"--which has generally restricted the number of licensees just by sheer geographical constraints. However, in the wake of the effects of Hurricane Katrina, recently there have been rumblings about even changing that restriction. Still, I personally would tend to believe that in Mississippi, names mean more than anything else. In other words, the government would likely grant a license to a well-established casino company than to just an ordinary little upstart casino.
In these other markets where the licensing is a bit more selective, I guess the best answer as to whether politics play a role is to follow the money.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.