Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid took an intense interest in pushing through visas for dozens of shady Asian investors for a Las Vegas casino represented by his son, Rory Reid, documents and reports show.
The investors, who were flagged for “suspicious financial activity,” had initially been denied visas by the Department of Homeland Security in a process that usually does not allow for appeals.
In a Dec. 5, 2012 email to officials at the Department of Homeland Security obtained by The Washington Times, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Legislative Affairs official Miguel Rodriguez wrote, “This one is going to be a major headache for us all because Sen. Reid’s office/staff is pushing hard and I just had a long yelling match on the phone.”
The investors were interested in renovating the SLS Hotel — which was once the Sahara. SLS is represented by Sen. Reid’s son, Rory Reid, who works at the law firm Lionel, Sawyer & Collins. In their 2012 “Year in Review,” the Nevada firm hyped “the benefit of working with Rory Reid of Lionel Sawyer & Collins.”
“Mr. Reid’s previous experience as chairman of the Clark County Commission is put to good use assisting with general legal advice for the project and helping navigate through the maze of regulations required to access economic incentives offered on the state and local levels,” the article, called “Redeveloping a Classic Strip Property,” continued.
When questioned on Sen. Reid’s intervention on behalf of SLS investors, Sen. Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman told Ralston Reports — where Rory’s connection was first reported — that “The SLS project creates nearly 9,000 badly needed jobs and has the support of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.”
“That is the calculus in Sen. Reid’s support of the project,” Orthman continued. “We have a long-standing office policy that strictly bars any member of the staff’s family or the Senator’s family from lobbying our office on behalf of their clients. That policy applies in this case.”
Initial attempts by Sen. Reid’s office to expedite the visa requests were denied on Dec. 17, 2012, prompting the majority leader to personally call USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas.
“Within a few short weeks of Mr. Reid’s personal intervention, the decision not to expedite the visas was reversed, allowing the hotel to secure major funding from JP Morgan Chase,” the Times reports.
Sen. Reid “has supported and will support the SLS Las Vegas in any way he can,” a spokeswoman for the senator told the Times.