Imagine it's March 2006, some eight months before the midterm elections in an unpopular President Bush's second term, and the Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has this nasty habit of running afoul of the Federal Election Commission over pricey gifts for campaign donors. The media would most certainly have a field day with the revelations.
But alas, it's March 2014 and it's Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and President Obama's Senate majority on the line. Here's Rebecca Shabad of TheHill.com with details (emphasis mine):
The amount Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to reimburse his reelection campaign jumped from about $16,000 to at least $31,000, according to reports.
On Tuesday, Nevada journalist Jon Ralston reported that 2016 campaign funds were given to Reid’s granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid, which she used to buy gifts for donors.
The younger Reid sells jewelry in Berkley, Calif.
In the initial report, Ralston reported that the amount was more than $16,000.
On Wednesday night, he discovered Reid’s campaign paid his granddaughter at least $14,000 more in 2012, bringing the total to about $31,000.
Reid said in a statement, after the initial report, that he would reimburse the campaign for the amount spent on thank-you gifts made by his granddaughter.
Asked about the additional expenditures on Wednesday, Reid reiterated to Ralston that he would reimburse the campaign, and said his granddaughter was being harassed.
“My granddaughter has been the target of harassing phone calls, strangers tracking her down and knocking on her door, and negative, unwanted attention on the Internet. This has gone too far and it needs to stop now. I deeply regret any role I had in creating this situation but now, as a grandparent, I say enough is enough,” Reid said, according to Ralston.
Last Friday, the Federal Election Committee sent a letter to Reid asking him to explain the expenditures from a 2013 campaign filing.
“Itemized disbursements must include a brief statement of description of why each disbursement was made,” the letter said.
Reid is not up for reelection until 2016, but announced he began planning for another campaign last October.
A search of Nexis yielded no stories on the Big Three networks about the initial FEC letter. Likewise a search of the Nexis database found squat in both the New York Times -- you know, the "all the news that's fit to print" guys -- and the Washington Post, the paper of record for the nation's capital.
We don't anticipate any significant interest by the media in this new development, even with the juicy angle that this sort of dirty dealing is a family affair in the Reid household.