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Reid gives Treasury $41,600 tied to investigated lobbyist

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, turned over to the U.S. Treasury $41,600 in questionable campaign donations connected to a once-prominent Nevada power broker who is under federal investigation for questionable political contributions, campaign finance records show.

In February, Mr. Reid announced his office was reviewing donations connected to a longtime friend, Harvey Whittemore, shortly after the criminal investigation of the Nevada lobbyist and land developer went public.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Mr. Whittemore illegally reimbursed family members, employees and business associates for making campaign contributions, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Mr. Reid's office in February said the campaign already had given donations from Mr. Whittemore and his wife, Annette, to charity. His office declined to specify the amount it had given to charity.

Mr. Reid's latest campaign filing, covering the first three months of the year, shows $41,600 was turned over to Treasury for "disgorgement."

"Genuine questions were raised regarding the legality of certain other contributions connected to Mr. Whittemore, so we gave them to the Treasury," said Reid representative Kristen Orthman. "We will continue to review other contributions as more information becomes available and treat them appropriately."

She declined to go into more specifics on the questioned donations.

FBI agents began serving subpoenas in February. The agents were reported to be especially interested in donations made to Mr. Reid's campaign fund on March 31, 2007, according to published accounts.

On that day, Mr. Whittemore, his family and his employees donated $128.000 to Mr. Reid's campaign coffers.

Mr. Whittemore once was one of Nevada's most powerful figures, with friends in both parties. He was considered one of the best lobbyists in the state, and he was able to call on Mr. Reid and other Nevada officials for help with his dream of developing 160,000 homes on 43,000 acres of desert he owned 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The real estate project, called Coyote Springs, stalled in the economic downturn, and earlier this year, Mr. Whittemore's partners filed a lawsuit against him, accusing him of embezzlement. Mr. Whittemore denies the charge and has countersued.

Other Nevada politicians, including Mr. Reid's Republican colleague in the Senate, Dean Heller, and Mr. Heller's opponent in this year's Senate race, Rep. Shelley Berkley, a Democrat, also said they were getting rid of Whittemore donations.

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