Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nevada architecture firm under scrutiny for contributions to Harry Reid

A Nevada architecture firm is being investigated by the Federal Election Commission for irregular campaign contributions to Senator Harry Reid who is up for re-election next year.  Las Vegas Review-Journal reports:

A local architecture firm that recently won an $8.3 million federal contract to redesign a U.S. border crossing in California is being investigated by the Federal Election Commission for irregular campaign contributions to Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who is up for re-election next year.

Henderson resident Randy Spitzmesser prompted the FEC probe of his former employer, Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects.
On behalf of the architecture firm, Las Vegas attorney Stan Hunterton told the Las Vegas Review-Journal by fax last month, "We do not believe that anything was intentionally done wrong" regarding campaign finances.
Spitzmesser also thinks Henderson-based Tate Snyder Kimsey did not adequately disclose its recent history of legal disputes to the agency that awarded the border-crossing job.
His FEC complaint alleges the architecture firm illegally forced him to donate $1,000 to Reid in February and then covertly repaid him after he complained he didn't have the money to spare. The firm hid the transaction, he said, by adding an extra $1,000 to a check that was also his reimbursement for legitimate business expenses. Federal laws prohibit campaign contributions that come from corporations, disguise the true donor's identity or involve coercion.
"We should not force our political will" in the workplace, is how Spitzmesser explained his resistance to supporting Reid. He said he voiced his opposition directly to Windom Kimsey, a firm principal. Spitzmesser said Kimsey responded that individuals who did not support Reid "will not have any work for the upcoming year."
In late June, the firm laid off Spitzmesser, citing a lack of work. Less than a month later, it won a huge assignment from the U.S. General Services Administration to modernize and expand the land port of entry in Otay Mesa, Calif. Federal stimulus dollars will pay for the project.
Reid and his re-election staff are aware of the FEC probe, campaign manager Brandon Hall said Friday.
"The allegation is against the company, not the Reid campaign," Hall said. "It's an issue for the firm."
It has been my observation that when people break federal election laws, it is generally done in expectation of some payoff worthy of the risk.  This is bad news for dingy Harry, and bad news is the last thing he needs.  Rasmussen polling in September show Reid behind each of two possible GOP challengers.
In what is currently a difficult political climate for Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid trails two potential Republican challengers seeking to unseat him as he faces reelection next year in Nevada.
The first Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of the 2010 race shows Sue Lowden beating Reid by 10 percentage points, 50% to 40%. Lowden is chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party and the preferred candidate of the Republican party establishment.
GOP hopeful Danny Tarkanian beats Reid by seven points, 50% to 43%. Tarkanian is a former basketball player for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and the son of a legendary college basketball coach.
Any incumbent who polls below the 50% level is considered potentially vulnerable, and Reid is clearly in that category.
Nevada has one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation and a September unemployment rate of 13.3%, second only to Michigan.  The people of that state are hurting and need jobs.  Stimulus money paid to Reid's cronies to work on big projects in California isn't going to help.

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