Oct 13 2006
This week we learned Harry Reid had (a) bought land that had been part of a Land Swap deal he publically backed, (b) within days after the local zoning board had overruled their own long standing resistance to change the zoning of the Ried property from residential to commercial Reid sells the property to an LLC (the LLC has no mention of Reid’s ownership and no formal arrangement of what he is entitled to from the LLC), and (c) when the land is sold from the LLC to the developer, the LLC sends Reid $1.1M dollars for the land he already sold for $400K a couple of years prior. Interestingly enough, Harry Reid in 2002 stated land owners should not be involved in Land Swap deals because it did not look ethical:
The federal Bureau of Land Management is reviewing a pending Nevada land swap that has drawn criticism because data justifying the deal came from the developer â€” via its employee who set up shop in a local BLM office.
The process was criticized Monday by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. The Senate majority whip said heâ€™d support legislation to end landownersâ€™ direct involvement in the governmentâ€™s handling of their own deals.
â€œIâ€™m not saying itâ€™s illegal,â€ Reid said. â€œI just donâ€™t like the way it looks.â€
But didn’t Reid help push the land swap deal that resulted in his own profit windfall? Yes he did.
The agreement brings to a close more than three years of complex negotiations among the university, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Del Webb Conservation Holding Company, the U.S. Forest Service and the American Land Conservancy.
The agreement is a result of efforts to preserve Lake Tahoe by Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, who coordinated President Clinton’s 1997 Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit.
“The real winner as a result of this long-awaited agreement is the public,” Reid said. “The Whittell Estate holds some of the most fantastic scenery in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Not only will the people be granted the pleasure of seeing the one-mile shoreline, 147-acre property and the magnificent 16,500-square-foot stone chateau, but the University of Nevada, Reno will be able to use the facility as an environmental research center. As a result, I am confident that the University of Nevada will now get the recognition it has long deserved as being on the forefront of environmental research in the Lake Tahoe Basin.”
Three years of effort! That is a long time and a lot of work. And this deal is not about small amounts of money. This Tahoe deal is generating billions of dollars a year, and much of it going back into Nevada, even though it was related to a swap of Federal land, not state land. And the fact is the Federal government is selling-swapping this land at bargain basement prices, only to have developers and well connected politicians like Reid make the profits. This has been a problem for years – where the profits all show up AFTER the swap.
The report cited a case in which a person obtained 70 acres of federal land in Nevada as part of an unidentified land exchange for $763,000 and on the same day, land records show, sold the property for $4.6 million.
I am seeing plenty of evidence this practice needs to be suspended and audited in detail from top to bottom to see if all these deals are benefiting others like Reid who push for the deals, and then magically get a windfall froom an undocumented business arrangement.