Capitol Police Chief Reported to Former Reid Staffer and Two Others At Time of Senator’s Injuries

Reid's involvement highlights the seriousness of the problem he may have dealing with a member in his ranks who’s expected to be indicted within weeks.
AP Photo

On January 1, 2015, the day then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says he suffered serious injuries as a result of a home exercise accident, the Chief of the Capitol Police reported to the Capitol Board. One of its three members, then-Senate Sergeant at Arms Andrew B. “Drew” Willison, was a former Reid staffer.

Willison is not just any former Reid staffer. He spent nearly two decades as a Reid loyalist, and his career has skyrocketed because of Reid’s patronage. As recently as March 3, he was “rumored to be taking over as Reid’s chief of staff.”

According to a statement issued by Reid’s office on January 2, “Senator Reid was first brought to St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Henderson by his security detail.”

The number of Capitol Police officers assigned to Reid’s security detail at the time, and who supervises them, remains unclear.

As Capitol Police officers, they ultimately report to Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine. But, since they were providing security for the then-Senate Majority Leader at the time of the incident, they may also have reported directly to the Senate Sergeant At Arms. That direct reporting relationship appears to be suggested by the Senate Sergeant at Arms website:

As chief law enforcement officer of the Senate, the Sergeant at Arms is charged with maintaining security in the Capitol and all Senate buildings, as well as protection of the members themselves.

Reid appointed Willison as the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate in May 2014. Willison previously served on Reid’s staff from 1997 to 2007 and is currently “rumored” to be Reid’s next chief of staff.

The Senate Majority Leader rules the Senate, and picks the Senate Sergeant at Arms. Reid served as Senate Majority Leader from January 2007 to January 2015. On January 6, 2015, when Senator Mitch McConnell took over as Majority Leader and Reid became Minority Leader, a changing of the guard took place. Willison resigned as Senate Sergeant at Arms and McConnell named Secret Service veteran Frank J. Larkin to the post.

Reid’s 2014 appointment of Willison as Senate Sergeant at Arms was somewhat unusual , since Willison has no law enforcement or military experience, as was the case for the three previous Senate Sergeants At Arms.

As Roll Call reported:

Willison’s résumé is unique among the sergeants-at-arms in the post-9/11 era — a point hammered home on April 29, when Secret Service alumnus Bill Pickle, career Army Maj. Gen. Alfonso E. Lenhardt and five other former SAAs gathered in the Capitol for a luncheon with Gainer and Willison.

Unlike that fraternity, the 39th sergeant-at-arms previously served stints at NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency. He joined the staff of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 1997 to assist Reid’s work on the Environment and Public Works Committee and eventually earned a spot as staff director for the Appropriations Energy-Water Subcommittee. When Reid became majority leader in 2007, he appointed Gainer chief and invited Willison to join Gainer as deputy.

In 2007, Reid appointed Willison as the Deputy Senate Sergeant at Arms. When he left that position in 2010, “to go to work for Battelle, a nonprofit that operates national laboratories for the Department of Energy,” Reid gave him a glowing tribute on the floor of the Senate.

Willison, Reid said in his tribute, “has lead a distinguished career in the U.S. Senate that elevated him to the highest levels of decision making.”

But Willison’s skills appear to be almost exclusively political. As The Las Vegas Review Journal reported:

During the age of earmarks, [while serving as a Reid staffer, Willison] helped Reid stymie funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project while helping steer millions of dollars in projects back to the state.

On January 7, six days after Reid’s injury incident, Roll Call reported that Willison, who had been replaced the previous day as Senate Sergeant at Arms by Frank J. Larkin, was “in line to replace David Krone as chief of staff for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.”

Two months later, on March 3, when Reid vocally defended the Capitol Police at a press conference, Willison was still “rumored to be taking over as Reid’s chief of staff.”

It is unclear if press reports that Willison will become Reid’s new chief of staff have proven true.

Breitbart News asked Senator Reid’s office to confirm press reports that former Chief of Staff David Krone was no longer working for the senator. We also asked for the name of the current chief of staff, but have received no response to either inquiry.

In any event, Reid has a long relationship with the Capitol Police. From 1961 to 1964, while he was a student at George Washington Law School, Reid worked nights as a Capitol Police officer.