Biden Silent on Reid Stepping Down
By: Nick Danger · Section: News
“That's a big problem.”
— Howard Dean Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) failed today to address rumors that Nevada Senator Harry Reid will step down next month as Senate Minority Leader. Reid has been stung by revelations that his political action committee (PAC) accepted more than $60,000 in contributions from Indian tribes linked to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Appearing on CNN's Late Edition, Biden avoided discussing either the Reid situation or any upcoming changes in Senate Democratic leadership.
Jan 29th, 2006: 16:05:42
Reid is no stranger to scandal, having been the subject of a 1979 Justice Department probe into allegations that Reid — then Nevada Gaming Commission chairman — had received bribes through mob lawyer Oscar Goodman and Tropicana attorney Jay H. Brown. The probe officially cleared Reid, but he subsequently received numerous contributions from gambling industry figures, including Brown.
Some Democrats are worried that Reid's continued presence in the Senate leadership undermines Democratic hopes of scoring significant gains this November.
Earlier this month, Reid described Oscar Goodman — now Mayor of Las Vegas — as "a real vote-getter" who would be "a very, very strong candidate" if he entered the race for the Senate seat held by Republican John Ensign. "I'm happy to give him any advice or counsel that he needs or wants," Reid told the Las Vegas Sun. "I've known him for many, many years and will have to wait and see what he decides to do." Before becoming mayor in 1999, Goodman was a defense attorney whose mob clients included Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro.
"Reid is going around the country talking about a 'Republican scandal' — about Republicans accepting one- and two-thousand dollar contributions from Jack Abramoff, when his own PAC took in $60,000," said one Republican strategist. "If this is what the Democrats call a 'Culture of Corruption,' it ought to be an interesting discussion."
Some Democrats are also upset that Reid capitulated on President Bush's nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. "Everyone knows there are not enough votes to support a filibuster," Reid told reporters, even as Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and others worked to drum up support for such an effort. Reid later stated he would support a filibuster, but only as a sort of protest vote. "I think it is an opportunity for people to express their opinion as to what a bad choice (Alito) was," Reid said.
Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, appearing on Fox News Sunday, made no announcements concerning Reid's status, but did comment on the growing controversy.
Moderator Chris Wallace asked Dean, "if we find that there were some Democrats who wrote letters on behalf of some of the Indian tribes that Abramoff represented, then what do you say, sir?"
Without mentioning Reid by name, Dean replied, "That's a big problem. And those Democrats are in trouble. And they should be in trouble."
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