The omnibus spending bill from House Speaker John Boehner and Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) contains a blatant handout to the travel–specifically casino–industry, something that benefits outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
On page 217, Title VI of the bill, is the “Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act of 2014.” It reauthorizes, extends, and changes the “Travel Promotion Act of 2009”–which, as Breitbart News has previously reported, is a nothing more than a kickback to Reid and his casino pals in Las Vegas.
This omnibus spending bill–which is supposed to be just an Appropriations bill, not dealing with reauthorizations like this–reauthorizes the Travel Promotion Act program for five extra years through 2020. It was supposed to sunset and end in 2015, and probably would have under a Republican-controlled Congress. Yet since Boehner is working to cut this deal with the Democrats in the lame duck post-election session of Congress rather than doing a clean Continuing Resolution (CR) when the new GOP Senate takes over, he included it in this bill.
Reid previously inserted, with the help of Nevada’s Republican Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), a reauthorization of the Travel Promotion Act into the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty–a move that drew widespread criticism at the time. The Senate Gang of Eight bill, despite efforts by Boehner to bring it through a conference committee to get it passed through Congress, has now been officially killed after it passed the Senate in mid-summer of 2013.
This provision in the omnibus, however, is so good for Reid and his close donors and friends that he’s publicly touted it many times.
“The recently signed into law Travel Promotion Act is going to greatly benefit Nevada because we have so many wonderful tourist attractions,” a 2009 post from Reid’s website reads. “Senator Reid fought so hard to pass this bill because he knew that it would mean thousands of jobs for Nevada as foreign tourists flock to Las Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe. Yesterday a number of hotels on the Las Vegas Strip showed Senator Reid their appreciation for his efforts on behalf of Nevada by thanking him in their marquees.”
The post even has a picture of a Las Vegas strip casino–Bally’s–thanking Reid on its billboard for passing the Travel Promotion Act in the first year of the Obama administration.
In a 2011 video, Reid himself touted the program.
“I had the good fortune yesterday to visit with the Travel Promotion Authority officials, the president Steven Cloobeck from Nevada, and the other officials,” Reid said in the 2011 video. “They have worked very hard doing research, scientific research, to find out why people want to come to America. And we’re going to start in February advertising big time.”
In May 2012, the Washington Free Beacon wrote that Brand USA–which is a semi-private, government-run corporation created by the Travel Promotion Act–is a “Cronyism Board,” and its president Steven Cloobeck is a major Democratic Party donor who’s given specifically to Reid.
“Cloobeck donated at least $490,045 in political contributions since 2007, with only $9,700 going to Republicans,” the Free Beacon’s CJ Ciaramella wrote. “In 2011, Cloobeck gave $100,000 through one of his companies to the Majority PAC, which is run by operatives tied to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, according to the Las Vegas Sun.”