Sen. Harry Reid’s (D.,Nev.) general counsel on Thursday withdrew a request seeking approval for the senator to use what some have deemed a “slush fund” to help cover costs as he departs from Congress.
Reid’s counsel asked the Federal Election Commission for approval to use campaign funds in order to hire a full-time personal assistant to help with tasks once he retires. The counsel argued that the senator anticipates having “substantial post-retirement obligations arising from a 34-year tenure as a federal officeholder” and said he needed a full-time personal assistant to help “review, organize, and arrange for transportation and storage of archival and office materials” and to help schedule appearances in order for Reid to discuss his time in Congress.
In addition to the personal assistant, Reid wanted to use funds from his leadership PAC, the Senate Majority PAC, to help cover the costs of winding down his Washington, D.C., office. Both requests are strictly prohibited by the FEC.
Reid’s general counsel officially bowed out of the request in a letter sent to the commission stating it was “impossible” for approval to occur.
“Unfortunately, it appears that the recusal of two commissioners and the circulation of four drafts makes reaching the required four votes on this straightforward legal question impossible,” the withdrawal letter reads. “Thus, rather than waste further Commission and private resources, we simply proceed with past advisory opinions on the subject.”
Reid’s counsel later took a shot at the commission over the matter.
“We note the zeal some commissioners appear to have found for embracing an expansive view of regulation in this matter,” it later says. “This is a Commission that held that the phrase ‘Barack Obama’s liberal policies are bad for America’ does not ‘oppose’ or ‘attack’ a federal candidate; that a millionaire ferrying a group of donors by private plane to a phone-a-thon at the invitation of a federal campaign was not doing so ‘of behalf of’ said campaign; and that a billionaire donor’s ‘insist[ence] on parceling out his money project by project’ was insufficient to investigate whether the donor was the source of funding behind a particular communication. Indeed, we can only recall one other time that such a broad regulatory impulse seemed to take hold of the Commission in a response to a routine advisory opinion request.”
Marc Elias, a partner at the Washington, D.C-based Perkins Coie law firm, submitted the withdrawal letter to the commission. Elias is currently the top campaign lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and has been described as “Harry Reid and Barack Obama’s personal political attorney.”
Sen. Reid’s office did not return a request for comment.