Forced by the Federal Election Commission to explain where $17,000 from his campaign went, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid acknowledged giving the money to his granddaughter for “holiday gifts” in late 2013, and finally reimbursed the money to his campaign. The FEC sent the treasurer for Friends of Harry Reid a letter asserting that the treasurer “must include a brief statement or description … to clarify the following description: ‘holiday gifts.'” Reid’s campaign operation had listed the “holiday gifts” as two separate payments to Ryan Elisabeth of Berkley, Calif., on Oct. 23, 2013. One payment amounted to $5,416.93; the other was $11,370.00.
“Ryan Elisabeth” refers to Ryan Elisabeth Reid, 23, Reid’s granddaughter. Reid released a statement in which he said, “I thought it would be nice to give supporters and staff thank-you gifts that had a personal connection and a Searchlight connection. But I have decided to reimburse the campaign for the amount of the expenditure.”
The Friends of Harry Reid campaign stated that it filled out the Schedule B form in question properly, but the FEC has insisted Reid’s team clarify it by April 25 or there will be “an audit or enforcement action.” Chris Anderson, a spokesman for Reid, said, “The report is accurate, the expenditure was for holiday gifts. The campaign complied with all FEC rules.” The FEC lists “examples of inadequate purposes” as a warning to campaigns of what language is inappropriate to explain disbursements. One item on the list is “gifts.” Reid’s reimbursement may not excuse his campaign of reporting a more full explanation to the FEC.