Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, promised this week to reimburse the nearly $17,000 in campaign funds he gifted to his granddaughter last fall without disclosing the fact that they were related.
Reid's campaign reportedly cut two checks — one for $5,417 and one for $11,370 — to a "Ryan Elisabeth" in October 2013 for what was described as "holiday gifts," according to the New York Post.
Reid initially failed to mention, however, that "Ryan Elisabeth" is Ryan Elisabeth Reid, the 23-year-old daughter of his son, Rory. But a Reid aide told the media this week that "Ryan Elisabeth" is the name of a company owned by Reid's granddaughter and that the gifts were trinkets — coasters, picture frames, jewelry — for the support staff.
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According to the Post, Reid's campaign first described the granddaughter as a campaign vendor when initially questioned about the spending by Las Vegas journalist Jon Ralston
The relationship was disclosed only after the Federal Election Commission asked Reid's campaign, Friends for Harry Reid, to provide more information about the gift money.
In a press conference Wednesday, Reid maintained that the spending was in compliance with FEC regulations. Indeed, the Los Angeles Times reported, federal election rules permit
campaigns to distribute gifts of "nominal value," and grandchildren are not on the list of prohibited relatives.
"I thought it would be nice to give supporters and staff thank-you gifts that had a personal connection and a Searchlight connection, but I have decided to reimburse the campaign for the amount of the expenditure," Reid said in a statement Tuesday.
But Republicans took Reid to task over what they called improper spending.
"It's pretty brazen for Sen. Harry Reid to funnel nearly $17,000 in campaign funds to his granddaughter for 'holiday gifts,'" Jahan Wilcox, a Republican National Committee spokesman told the Times. "One of these days Reid will learn that Nevadans don’t appreciate him using campaign money as his personal slush fund."
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