Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
A pair of TV commercials set to air in Nevada that claim to “expose” Sen. Harry Reid’s connections to casino and Arab money have drawn the ire of the Senate majority leader’s friends.
Lawyers for the MGM Mirage casino fired off a letter demanding “full and unequivocal retraction” of the ads, which allege collusion between MGM’s CEO James Murren, MGM investor Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sen. Reid, D-Nev.
As WND reported, one of the ads highlights Sen. Reid’s actions in pressuring banks to bail out City Center, MGM’s $8.5 billion construction project, while the project’s partner, Maktoum, used slave labor to construct his own buildings in Dubai.
“Slave labor in Dubai, union labor in Las Vegas,” the ad quipped, “and both the slave bosses and the union bosses want Harry Reid re-elected. Go figure.”
A second ad, which can be seen below, further alleges that Reid’s allies at MGM and in Dubai have built their casino businesses with the help of taxpayer money:
MGM’s lawyers, however, contend the ad is “false, misleading and reprehensible in the extreme.”
“The taxpayers of Nevada did not pay for any licensing investigation of Sheik Al Maktoum,” the lawyers’ letter states. “Gaming licensees pay entirely for the investigations of them performed by gaming regulators, and the gaming licenses held by Dubai World and its subsidiaries are no different.”
Indeed, according to Nevada Revised Statute 463.331 and Nevada Gaming Regulation 4.070, some of the fees and costs associated with gambling are paid by the gaming industry and applicants.
“Dubai World paid the full cost of its license investigation,” the letter asserts. “Over the years, MGM has paid millions of dollars to the state of Nevada for its license investigation, all pursuant to existing law.”
One of the people behind the ad, however, told WND that the lawyers have left out part of the story.
Gary Kreep, president of the Republican Majority Campaign PAC, which funded the anti-Reid ad, explained that a later clause in regulation 4.070 and a corresponding clause in NRS 463.162 exclude casinos from paying some of the costs associated with regulating the gaming industry. Instead, the financial burden is shouldered by the state’s general fund (as established, for example, by NRS 463.330).
“Thirty-two million dollars are coming out of the general budget to pay for regulation of gaming in Nevada,” Kreep told WND. “The point is that these casinos are getting rich, and the general taxpayers are paying to monitor and regulate them.”
He explained, “It’s like going to a federal park, where the taxpayers pay for the government to maintain the park and in turn, get some measure of enjoyment out of visiting it. But by making the public pay to maintain the gaming industry, it’s as though the owners are saying to taxpayers, ‘You have to pay for the pleasure of gambling at my casino.’”
The lawyers’ letter went on to assert that MGM is Nevada’s largest employer and a major financial contributor to the state’s economy. It also takes exception to a quote from Floyd Brown, the ad’s producer, in which Brown suggested Reid’s connections to casinos and the ruler of Dubai “begin to explain” how Reid has risen from a poor childhood to become a multimillionaire.
“The clear implication of this language is that Jim Murren has been involved in improper payments to Senator Reid,” the lawyers object. “Since this is completely and absolutely false, we are certain you have no evidence upon which to base such a defamatory statement.”
Kreep again told WND, however, that despite the lawyers’ shock and chagrin, the letter fails to address the primary assertion of the ads themselves, that slave-labor bosses are pushing for their already proven pal’s re-election.
“The main point of the two ads is the tie-in between slave labor and Harry Reid,” Kreep said. “Notice the letter didn’t refute that part.”
MGM’s lawyers, however, weren’t the only pals of Reid who rallied to the senator’s defense after news broke of the ads.
Brown told WND that a group called Friends for Harry Reid came to the press conference earlier today announcing the ads’ release:
“Reid people were distributing flyers at our news conference in an attempt to disrupt it,” Brown said. “We were successful, but they accosted every reporter on the way in to the location of the news conference.”
The flyer itself was titled, “Out-of-State Hatchet Men Bring Their ‘Filthy Campaign Tactics’ to Nevada.”
It accused Kreep and Brown of being a “nut” and a “knife-thrower,” respectively, and apparently most heinous of all the accusations, labeled them as “birthers.”
Kreep gave WND the following response: “I … am humbled and honored by having my successes praised by Senator Reid and his staff as one of the ‘leading hatchet men of the Republican Party.’ Given the experience that Mr. Reid has had working with modern-day slave-labor masters, he certainly should know a ‘hatchet man’ when he sees one.”
Reid, additionally, served as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, a state government agency that regulates casinos, until his successful run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Since his election to Congress in 1982, Reid has been a U.S. representative for two terms and a U.S. senator for four terms. He is seeking his fifth Senate term in this fall’s 2010 election.
The new commercials attacking Reid have been paid for as independent-expenditure ads – meaning they have no formal ties or funding from any candidate – by the Republican Majority Campaign PAC and the Legacy Committee PAC.
The two PACs have also established a website, ExposeHarry.com, in the effort to oust the incumbent senator.