Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who built his political persona
around Searchlight, Nevada, said selling his home and land there to a gold mining company for $1.75 million, was "a very difficult decision," The Washington Post reported.
With the price of gold hovering at $1,300 an ounce and current technologies making it easier to extract gold that previously would not have been worth the effort, Searchlight — situated in the Mojave Desert and hour from Las Vegas — is experiencing a renewed gold boom.
Most gold mined in the U.S. comes from Nevada, the Post reported.
Reid's father was a miner and his mother a laundress for a brothel that served the miners. He grew up in a rustic cabin in the grimy gold-mining settlement, went on to law school, and is now a multi-millionaire. In addition to a swanky condominium in Washington, he maintained a two-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot house in Searchlight.
According to the Post, Reid's "land quite literally sat on a gold mine." The sale included the house together with 110 acres to a South Dakota mining company that has been buying up property in the area.
At age 74, Reid said it will be easier for him and his wife Landra to relocate to Las Vegas closer to his children and 16 grandchildren. "I've got a reelection coming up and I've been through a few elections commuting from Searchlight, and it's hard," he said in a video made to announce the move.
"So, this will make that part of it much easier," Politico reported.
In the video set in his Washington office, Reid said: "I can remember coming back after law school, and the one thing I wanted to do was start buying Searchlight property." He continued, "And I started that. I would get a little piece, I'd pay some of my uncles $50 a month. So I wound up collecting property. At the time, it wasn't worth much. But as the years have gone on, it's now worth more money."
He also showed off a miner's helmet with a carbide lamp. "Even after all these years, you can still smell the carbide," he said.
Queried by the Las Vegas Review-Journal
on whether he had gotten a "sweetheart deal," Reid responded: "I hope I did. That's what this great free enterprise system is all about."
"They wanted my property," he said. "They wanted to develop what I had, so we made a deal."
Reid has been criticized in the past for his business dealings including the sale of a property which provided him over a million dollars in tax benefits. His sponsorship of legislation in 2005 that may have raised the value of property he owned in Arizona also drew critical attention, according to the Post.
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