Reid changes position
Mr. Johnson said in the recording that he was instructed by intermediaries to route a seven-figure check to a company on the West Coast.
Mr. Reid did introduce online poker legislation one month after his re-election in a closely contested race in 2010. The proposed legislation never went anywhere.
Jeffrey Ifrah, an online gambling industry attorney, attended the 2010 event with what he guessed were 60 to 70 others. He confirmed to ABC News that Mr. Reid announced his change of position on Internet poker in front of the donors.
But he said he did not think the contributions influenced the decision and laughed off Mr. Johnson’s suggestion that Mr. Reid was paid to make that change.
“If someone said that, they must have been joking,” Mr. Ifrah said. “Let me tell you something about gamblers: They don’t give their money to anybody and I highly doubt they would have given it to Reid. When they have cash to spend, they gamble with it — period.”
Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Mr. Reid, confirmed that Mr. Johnson attended the fundraiser.
“Senator Reid met with a large group of supporters, just as he met with thousands of people over the course of his re-election campaign, and took pictures and shook hands with countless people. The record indicates that Mr. Johnson was present at this large group meeting, but Senator Reid does not recall him as anything other than a face in the crowd,” Mr. Jentleson said.
“The event was a fundraiser, but Sen. Reid himself did not make a personal appeal for money. Fundraising is a necessary reality of politics and Sen. Reid has always conducted his fundraising activities with full transparency and in full compliance with the law,” he added.
When Mr. Johnson’s accusations were first made public last year, Mr. Reid called him a man of “low record and character” and termed his accounts as “absurd and utterly false.”
Mr. Jentleson echoed those sentiments Thursday.
“Mr. Johnson is a desperate individual who’s been indicted on over 80 counts. His allegations are false and the flailings of a desperate man,” the Reid spokesman said.
Mr. Reid had long opposed online poker, making clear his position in a 2006 news conference.
“I, at one time in my career, was chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, which is the regulator for gaming in Nevada. I was there when gaming went to New Jersey. I do not believe in Internet gambling,” Mr. Reid told reporters. “I know how hard gambling is to control. I had my life threatened on more than one occasion as a result of untoward people who were involved in Nevada gambling. I was involved in shutting down major hotels because of the involvement of organized crime. The commodity of gambling is cash. And someone asked me if I oppose a study. I don’t oppose a study. If anyone wants to study it, they can study it. But unless I’m convinced differently, I do not favor Internet gambling.”