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Harry’s Henchman Rory Reid: Harry Reid’s Mob Money, Part 2
Original FReeper research | 1/26/2006 | Fedora

Posted on 01/26/2006 8:45:41 AM PST by Fedora

Harry’s Henchman Rory Reid

Harry Reid’s Mob Money, Part 2

By Fedora

Mr. Cleanface’s Dirty Laundry: Harry Reid’s 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. Reid’s son Rory has followed in his footsteps by associating with his father’s 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 Senator’s 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 company’s 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 Brown’s mother Florence S. Brown purchased 500,000 shares, Brown’s 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. Reid’s father told the press he did not own any stock in American Enterprises and distanced himself from his son’s 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 Reid’s expressed lack of interest in his son’s 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 York’s 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 Reid’s association with gambling industry contributors to his father’s 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 Luck’s 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 Nevada’s top lobbyists. Whittemore and his firm’s 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 casino’s links to drug dealers Neil Assinaro, Louis Cappiello, and Michael Jones. The report also discussed links between Wynn’s 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. Reid’s 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 Reid’s 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 Wynn’s legal ally Lionel Sawyer & Collins contributed $72,516 to Senator Reid and employed four of Reid’s 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, Wynn’s latest megaresort venture, opened on the former site of the Desert Inn run by mobster Moe Dalitz, another contributor to Reid’s father. Prior to abstaining, Reid congratulated Wynn, who was approved unanimously.

The Reids, Lionel Sawyer & Collins, and the Nevada Resort Association

Rory Reid’s 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 Reid’s 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 Goodman’s 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 Goodman’s help in pressuring the owner to move through means such as selectively enforcing city fire codes against the owner’s parking lot and having the police ticket the owner’s 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 Goodman’s sons have taken over his criminal law practice, which Goodman has used his office to promote.

Goodman’s 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 Reid’s fundraising agent in the limited sense defined by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, he still serves as his father’s agent in the practical sense of being in a position to shape state and local events on behalf of his father and his father’s 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 family’s 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 isn’t his father’s agent, Rory Reid sure does a good impression of being his father’s henchman.

Select Bibliography

”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 who’s cashing in at Indian casinos: HINT: It’s 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.

“County OKs Wynn Licenses”, Gambling Machine, March 24, 2005,

Cox, Don. ”Nevada’s most powerful lobbyist? Just call him Harvey”. Reno Gazette-Journal. May 13, 2001.

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 and ; also available at

Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinion Number 2003-10.

Federal Election Commission Public Hearing. Tuesday, May 17, 2005, 10:00 AM.

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.

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.

-------------------. “Rory Reid works magic to forge peace among utility combatants” Las Vegas Mercury. February 17, 2005.

Kulin, Dan. ”Firms’ use of mayor’s name is questioned”. Las Vegas Sun. September 21, 2004.

LaVelle, Philip J. ”Campaign game is unique in freewheeling ‘Sin City’”. The San Diego Union-Tribune. May 31, 2003.

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.

----------------. “Vegas mayor accused of helping mob associate as payback for past (and present) client referrals”. December 29, 2003.

----------------. “The Wynns, and what they may not want us to know”. May 2, 2005.

Morrison, Jane Ann. “Indian gaming stockholders are divesting”. Las Vegas Review-Journal. December 10, 1991, 1A.

-----------------------. “Reid’s 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.

-----------------------. “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 senator’s 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 See Page 10.

Riley, Brendan. “Reid: Las Vegas Mayor Discusses Senate Bid.” Las Vegas Sun. January 3, 2006.

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.

Tartikoff, Del. “Top FBI Agent Describes: Nevada Pols and Mob Links”. Electric Nevada.

United States Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. In the matter of Lady Luck, Mississippi, Inc. d/b/a Lady Luck Natchez.

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.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Nevada
KEYWORDS: 109th; gambling; harryreid; lasvegas; mafia; oscargoodman; reid; roryreid; stevewynn
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1 posted on 01/26/2006 8:45:44 AM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

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.

2 posted on 01/26/2006 8:54:50 AM PST by Dems_R_Losers (The Kerry/Lehane/Wilson/Grunwald/Cooper plot to destroy Karl Rove has failed!)
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To: Fedora

Excellent work! Thank you.

3 posted on 01/26/2006 8:54:55 AM PST by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: Fedora


4 posted on 01/26/2006 8:56:12 AM PST by Mamzelle
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To: Fedora
Excellent post - BTTT.

Link to Part 1 HERE

5 posted on 01/26/2006 8:56:18 AM PST by Henchster
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To: Fedora

Reid is about as dirty as they come.

6 posted on 01/26/2006 9:00:10 AM PST by kimosabe31
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To: Dems_R_Losers

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.

7 posted on 01/26/2006 9:06:22 AM PST by Fedora
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To: kimosabe31 has a very interesting article, "The Senator's Sons, about Reid inserting legislation which rewarded his sons and other relatives. Conflict of interest? Nawwwwwwwh.

8 posted on 01/26/2006 9:08:08 AM PST by Carolinamom (Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious. ---- Peter Ustinov)
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To: Dems_R_Losers

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.

9 posted on 01/26/2006 9:09:07 AM PST by Fedora
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To: Carolinamom
I believe that article is a reprint of the Neubauer and Cooper one I mention, and yes, it's very informative. I'd post it except it's from the Los Angeles Times and my understanding is we can't link to them.
10 posted on 01/26/2006 9:11:53 AM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

Well done, sir. Thank you.

11 posted on 01/26/2006 9:13:21 AM PST by lesser_satan
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To: ozzymandus

Ping in response to your question about Reid's son from the other thread--thanks for mentioning that.

12 posted on 01/26/2006 9:22:48 AM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

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.

13 posted on 01/26/2006 9:25:57 AM PST by VegasBaby
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To: VegasBaby

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.

14 posted on 01/26/2006 9:41:07 AM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

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.

15 posted on 01/26/2006 9:58:20 AM PST by VegasBaby
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To: Fedora

But Harry is a member in good standing, how could this be.

16 posted on 01/26/2006 10:13:08 AM PST by Bubba M. Aurelius
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To: VegasBaby

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.

17 posted on 01/26/2006 10:31:14 AM PST by Fedora
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To: kimosabe31
Another Freeper posted a blurb about ole Harry being the prototype for the Senator in Godfather II.

Well, well, well

18 posted on 01/26/2006 11:11:22 AM PST by doberville
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To: Fedora

Great work. I had read that reid's son or sons was/were dirty, but didn't know any details.

19 posted on 01/26/2006 11:48:07 AM PST by ozzymandus
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To: Fedora

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.

20 posted on 01/26/2006 12:17:47 PM PST by VegasBaby
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