Reid Target of Ethics Complaint Over Visas for Nevada Casino

Tuesday, 21 Jan 2014 08:18 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the target of an ethics and conflict-of-interest complaint after helping a politically connected casino in Nevada get visas for foreign investors, Watchdog.org reported Tuesday.

The Washington, D.C.-based group Cause of Action, which calls itself an advocate for government accountability, accuses Reid of violating the Senate's code of conduct by interceding on behalf of the foreign investors with top immigration officials.

The applicants were law clients of Reid's son, whose law firm is legal counsel to the SLS Hotel & Casino in Nevada, according to the complaint.

The complaint, which was sent to ethics committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer D-Calif., and to ranking Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, said Reid turned to Alejandro Mayorkas, then director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"Despite the fact that these applications were ineligible for appeal, Sen. Reid's efforts to lobby USCIS resulted in the reconsideration and approval of these applications, as well as the subsequent securing of millions of dollars in foreign and domestic funds for the (Las Vegas) SLS Hotel & Casino," wrote Cause of Action Executive Director Daniel Epstein.

The visas in question are part of the American Dream Fund EB-5 program, which gives permanent residency status, or green cards, to foreign nationals who invest $1 million, or $500,000 in high-unemployment areas, creating at least 10 jobs.

Reid's office did not reply to Watchdog's request for comment.

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