First, here's the editorial. It begins thusly:
Explaining that he's "not Goody Two-Shoes," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid used a loophole in Senate ethics rules to snap up thousands of dollars worth of ringside boxing match tickets that the Nevada Athletic Commission handed to him.Looks bad, huh? The story comes from the AP's John Solomon. He wrote:
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.The only problem with Solomon's article is that he didn't show that the Nevada Athletic Commission actually influenced Reid's vote.
Reid, D-Nev., took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.
By the way, Mediamatters.org has a good piece on Solomon's coverage of Senator Reid. The P-G probably should have read it before writing the editorial. Oh well, you live and learn.
In any case, Senator Reid continued to push for a federal boxing commission - inspite of the boxing matches. Something the P-G editorial omitted telling us.
The editorial did mention that:
While technically the ethics rules may allow senators to accept infinite gifts from governments, the code also says they must avoid the appearance of impropriety. When Mr. Not-Goody-Two-Shoes Reid repeatedly took high-value presents from a group intent on influencing him, it appeared shady to most Americans who don't want the rich and powerful, whether they're corporations or government agencies, to be able to buy the attention of politicians -- who, theoretically, are representatives of the people.Whah? So no Senate rules were broken? Huh - interesting. But wait, what does Reid himself say happened? Isn't that important? Take a look at this from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday his free attendance at boxing matches was necessary for him to understand boxing regulations and represent Nevada's interests.And:
Reid said he represented the athletic commission and its interests in Washington, D.C., as part of his representation of the state. While Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., paid $1,400 for his seats at a fight he attended with Reid, Reid said he didn't pay because he was in his home state, researching the interests of a part of his constituency.Hmm. It may be bs but it's also something else the P-G editorial didn't bother to tell us.
"Senator McCain is from Arizona. He's not supposed to get free tickets in the state of Nevada," Reid said. "He came here to watch the fight. I came to work for the state of Nevada and to watch the fight. If I were going to a fight with John McCain in Arizona ... I would pay for my ticket."
But the story gets interestinger and interestinger. Take a look down at the end of the piece from the Review-Journal:
Marc Ratner, who was the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission at the time, told The Associated Press he invited Reid and McCain to a September 2004 bout between Bernard Hopkins and Oscar de la Hoya in part because he wanted to convince them that the state's regulation was sufficient and federal regulation wasn't needed.So he was there officially! The executive director of the NAC is quoted as saying so.
Reid said Tuesday he "took care of" Ratner's concerns but didn't drop his push for federal oversight.
Ratner said Tuesday the seats Reid and McCain got weren't tickets available to the general public but "credentials" the commission gives only to public officials hoping to observe the commission's activity.
But, you might ask, what about all those other fights described in Solomon's story? Glad you asked. Take a look at this (it's from the same piece in the Review-Journal):
Boxing promoter Bob Arum said Reid and McCain also sat in ticketed seating at about three matches each but paid for their tickets "invariably." Arum said McCain and Reid's seats at the Hopkins-de la Hoya fight, on the other hand, were credentials from the commission, not tickets from Arum. But McCain, who brought his wife to the fight, sent Arum a check for the price of two ringside seats.So the times he sat ringside, he invariably paid for the tickets and the time he got in with one of those "credentials," he was there observing in an official capacity of some sort. Again, facts the P-G editorial missed or omitted.
Arum said he didn't know what to do with the money.
"Those credentials cannot be sold," he said. "There's no price on them. (They are given to) governors, attorney generals, boxing commissioners of other states. ... It's illegal to accept money for a credential."
Arum said he couldn't accept McCain's money but McCain wouldn't take it back, so Arum donated it to Catholic Charities. [emphasis added].
Oops, again and again.
But what did the P-G write? Do you remember? Here, I'll reprint it the first paragraph:
Explaining that he's "not Goody Two-Shoes," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid used a loophole in Senate ethics rules to snap up thousands of dollars worth of ringside boxing match tickets that the Nevada Athletic Commission handed to him.[emphasis added]And based on what I've been able to find out in a few minutes, how much of that sentence is actually, uh, true? And if it's not true, then what are we to make of the argument about Reid's ethics that it's based on? We can't possibly believe it's valid, can we?
For the cherry on top of the sundae the editorial ended with this:
Of all senators, leaders like Mr. Reid should understand that they do need to be "Goody Two-Shoes" when it comes to ethics. Mr. Reid needs to reimburse the Nevada Athletic Commission -- and then get to work closing loopholes in those Senate ethics rules.Since I can't imagine the P-G would actually recommend an illegal act to a member of the US Senate, I have to assume that they just didn't do their homework on this one.
If he can't, he needs to put on his no-good shoes, walk back to Nevada and stay there. [emphasis added]
Hey, if they need a fact checker over there at the P-G, I'm available.