How Did Harry Reid Become Rich?

(Mark Noonan) – According to Open Secrets, Senator Harry Reid has a minimum net worth of $2,827,056.00, a maximum worth of $6,307,999.00 and an average net worth of $4,567,527.00. Why all the discrepancies?

Because our leaders, much as they set up campaign finance laws to protect themselves, have set up their disclosure requirements to hide things. They don’t really want us to know how much they have and thus the millions of dollars of variance possible in Reid’s fortune.

Still, taking that nearly $4.6 million average for Reid seems fair – if it’s really off, then it’s up to Reid to correct the record. And that is quite a rise for a man who endlessly reminds us was born poor.

I’m pretty sure I’m safe in saying that for everyone reading this, that is quite a lot of money. In fact, more money than any of us are likely to (a) ever have or (b) even know what to do with, if we did have it. Lots of people start poor, work hard, and get rich – in the private sector.

The problem, for Harry Reid, is that since he graduated college, there hasn’t been a lot of time outside of government service. Reid was elected to the State Assembly in 1966 and in the past 43 years (when Reid went from 27 years old to 70 – and your humble correspondent went from 2 to 45), the only gap in public service was the two years in the mid-70’s between his term as Lt. Governor and his service on the Nevada Gaming Commission. And during that time he ran for Mayor of Las Vegas, leaving little time to build up a fortune in the private sector.

Right now, as Senate Majority Leader, Reid earns $193,400.00 per year – a back-bencher earns $174,000.00.

Reid has been earning that 193 grand for a few years, but when he first entered the Senate in 1987, I think the Senate salary was about $125,000.00 per year. In order to build up $4.6 million dollars over the past 43 years, Reid would have had to sock aside – out of various government salaries – nearly $107,000.00 per year.

Does anyone want to believe that Reid has done this? That he has saved his government-salary pennies (including for all those years when he made far less than even $107,000.00 per year) and built up his fortune just out of the money we know he’s been earning since he entered public office? And what if Reid’s fortune is actually closer to the higher estimate of $6.3 million?

It’s just not credible that Reid has done this just out of his government salary. The man has raised 5 kids, through college. His various government salaries were enough to live on but how, with all the expenses, did Reid build up so much money? What did he do? How did he do it?

How does a man who’s “product” is legislation make so much money that he can build up more than four and a half million dollars of net worth?

Its small wonder that Reid believes in the power of government to make things good. They’ve certainly made things good for him. He’s risen from the son of a hard-rock miner to a fabulously wealthy Senate Majority Leader. Being in government, for Reid, has been like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He hasn’t had to work for money, but he’s managed to acquire quite a lot of it.

But is this what we want? Do we want people who enter politics poor and leave it very rich? Nothing wrong with a poor man being in government. Nothing wrong with being a rich man in government. But to start poor and end rich while never doing anything in the private sector is a clear indicator of trading on one’s position.

And this is why Reid wants so desperately to remain in power – because it’s all he’s got.

The whole of Reid’s position in life has been built on his government office. Wealth, power and prestige, for Reid, are dependent upon his remaining in office. To lose office is to lose the ability to, say, build up another four million dollars. It’s not like Reid has any marketable skills for the private sector – even his skill as a lawyer is probably rusty as he hasn’t done any real legal practice since the 1960’s.

Reid, out of the Senate, is a nobody.

Reid is asking us to entrust him with 6 more years in the United States Senate. Before we do such a thing, it is fair for us to ask: “Reid, how did you become a rich man?”

All evidence indicates that Reid has enriched himself off his government position and unless we get evidence, from Reid, to the contrary, we daren’t re-elect him. Nevada is in trouble and we need leaders who are for us, not just living off us.

(Mr. Noonan co-publishes Blogs for Victory)