A newspaper report suggests that Harry Reid exercised improper political clout on behalf of a casino in his home state of Nevada. The Washington Times reports that Reid personally intervened when a government agency—the US Citizenship and Immigration Services—rejected a request to speed up visa applications for foreign investors who wanted to help fund the renovation of the SLS Hotel, better known by its former name as the Sahara Casino. He did so despite concerns of "suspicious financial activity" by some of the Asian investors, according to the newspaper.
When the USCIS rejected the initial request to expedite the EB-5 investor visas, Reid himself got on the phone to top USCIS official Alejandro "Ali" Mayorkas, "setting into motion a process that consumed top political officials inside the Homeland Security and Commerce departments and ultimately resulted in a ruling that granted expedited status to the hotel over the objections of career officials," says the story. Reid's camp counters that it had to act aggressively because the renovation is so vital to the Vegas Strip. But USCIS staffers who provided emails of the exchanges say they did so because they think the entire EB-5 program has become too politicized. The incident could come up this week because Mayorkas is under review by the Senate to become the No. 2 official at Homeland Security. Click for the full story. (Read more Harry Reid stories.)