Back in February, the AP's John Solomon ran a lengthy piece detailing alleged contacts between Jack Abramoff's team at Greenberg Traurig and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). As Josh pointed out, although the article concentrated on the fact that Team Abramoff was lobbying Reid on behalf of sweatshop owners in the Northern Marianas, Solomon failed to note that Reid actually voted against the legislation Abramoff was pushing.
Well, Solomon has written a new piece purporting to illustrate still more of Reid's ethical improprieties. He's managed to actually make a weaker case than in his last story.
Here's the central allegation:
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.
That sounds pretty bad.
Only, there is an exception for gifts from governmental agencies (like the Nevada Athletic Commission) in the Senate ethics rules. So there is nothing untoward about Reid having accepted the free tickets.
But it would still seem pretty bad if Reid had accepted the tickets and then stumped shamelessly for the commission.
Only, he didn't. As was the case with Abramoff and the Marianas, Reid voted against the peddler's interest. As Solomon admits in the piece, Reid was advocating "the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority." Reid never changed his position. And this was a dramatically uncontroversial piece of legislation largely preoccupied with ensuring the safety of boxers by creating the United States Boxing Administration. It passed the Senate unanimously.
Now, Solomon puts all these facts in his piece. So he's not covering up a key piece of information like he did last time. He seems to realize that he doesn't have any real story. So Solomon argues that Reid, out of an abundance of caution, should have paid for the tickets to avoid the appearance of impropriety.