A Utah county prosecutor says he is investigating Sen. Harry Reid in connection with a pay-to-play scheme involving two former Utah attorneys general. The prosecutor investigating Reid is Troy Rawlings of Davis County, a Republican.
The former Utah attorneys general are Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow, both Republicans. The two were arrested last summer after prosecutors accused them of engaging in a wide-ranging scheme through which they traded favors with businessmen in trouble with regulators.
Swallow has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges. Shurtleff has pleaded not guilty to obstructing justice. Both have trials scheduled in 2016.
The investigation of Reid apparently is based on a businessman’s claim that one of these former attorneys general arranged a deal to pay Reid to get rid of a federal investigation into a software business. The Justice Department declined to file charges in the case.
Defending his investigation, Rawlings says, “To simply ignore and run from what has been presented by multiple witnesses and sources . . . would mean I am either intentionally blind, or overly worried.” (Emphasis added) Thus, the businessman mentioned above might not be Reid’s only accuser.
Rawlings has complained that the Department of Justice has limited what information he can obtain and tried to limit what he can investigate. As far as I can tell, DOJ has not responded to this complaint.
Is there merit to the allegations against Reid? I don’t know. We’ve seen Democratic prosecutors abuse their power in order to make life difficult for major Republican figures with ongoing political aspirations (see Rick Perry and Tom DeLay).
Unlike Perry and DeLay at the time they were charged, Harry Reid is finished politically. Facing likely defeat in 2016, he has decided to call it quits when his term expires.
It’s possible, nonetheless, that the investigation of Reid is politically motivated, rather than merits-based. Time will probably tell.