Speaking of Diverting Campaign Cash…


…to personal uses, it appears that Sen. Harry Reid, hot on the heels of amending his financial disclsoure reports to accurately report the details of a land deal, has also decided to reimburse his campaign $3,300 after using it as a petty cash stash to donate to a fund that buys Christmas gifts for the support staff who work in the building (which happens to be a Ritz-Carlton) where he has his Washington area home.

Incidentally, I tend to be much closer to the Captain Ed Morissey view of this–that additional spade work is warrented–as opposed to the Paul Kiel view–that the Associated Press’s initial story doesn’t add up.

At the very least, Reid didn’t disclose a transaction involving property and his participation in a limited liability corporation–not exactly hanging offenses, but also not providing full disclosure of his personal financial dealings to his constituents. And the move comes in a context in which Reid (much like House Speaker Dennis Hastert in Kendall County, Ill.) has been particularly active: real estate deals and development in Clark County, Nevada. Reid has used his Senate clout to facilitate development for campaign contributors; surely his own dealings in real estate deserve extra scrutiny on the part of an informed public.

I don’t necessarily think that the Hastert and Reid examples are perfect parallels, but I do think continued inquiry (into both situations, as a matter of fact) is warranted. Unlike Captain Ed, however, I don’t think a full investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee is the way to go, largely because the congressional Ethics Committees exist primarily to shield members from scandal (“That matter is under review by the Ethics Committee”) rather than enlighten the public.