Harry Reid, BLM, and Cliven Bundy
You might say Harry Reid is a family man. He likes to use public office to benefit his family at the expense of yours.
Reuters reporter Marcus Stern discovered Harry Reid’s family connections when investigating an odd set of circumstances that tie Reid to the Bureau of Land Management and to Cliven Bundy, the 67 year old rancher, whose property near Bunkerville, Nevada, is in the way of Reid family plans for the Gold Butte region.
Harry Reid says that the fight between the BLM and Bundy is not over. Reid should know. The Director of BLM is none other than Senator Reid’s former senior policy adviser on land-use issues (2003 to 2011), Neil Kornze. Kornze has no prior experience in federal land management, but Reid has often described him as “perfect for the job.” Indeed, perfect for Harry Reid. Kornze’s decision to call off the cattle seizure and to stand down rather than complete the confiscation conveniently saved Reid from an enormous political embarrassment. There is nothing like an enormous blood bath in Nevada precipitated by a Reid family land grab to stoke political flames enough to consume Reid’s weak popularity in short order. Reid knows that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and so now BLM turns to litigation as its way of obtaining judgments against Bundy that BLM hopes will force Bundy to turn over his ranch as payment.
Truth be told, Harry Reid has a long history of involvement with the BLM, peddling his influence there to achieve benefits for his family and friends. Reid worked with BLM to change the boundaries of the desert tortoise’s habitat to accommodate the planned development of a top financial donor, Harvey Whittemore. You see, the desert tortoise is only a justification against development of those who are not politically connected to Reid. Whittemore gave Reid and Reid’s Political Action Committee $45,000. If Cliven Bundy were a Reid financial backer, his fate might well be different, but he is not. Bundy opposes Reid.
Among the reasons posited by BLM in justification for its decision to seize Bundy’s cattle were two: protection of the desert tortoise’s habitat and the need for a cattle free desert to permit creation of a solar panel project for clean energy generation. The desert tortoise excuse is laughable to those resident in the Gold Butte region because they know that the few remaining ranches form oases in an otherwise barren desert and actually help keep the tortoises alive. BLM efforts to turn the ranches back to desert would likely reduce tortoise populations by depriving them of ready access to irrigated and green areas in and around the ranches. Moreover, the tortoise thrives in Las Vegas (is considered a nuisance by many there), and it was BLM, not Bundy, that euthanized hundreds of the tortoises when BLM closed the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center. BLM elected not to dedicate funds to the project and, rather than free the tortoises into the surrounding environment, BLM killed them. Quite obviously, those with political clout not only get to push the desert tortoise around, they get to kill the tortoise, but those who have no beef with the tortoise but also no ins with the Reid family, like Bundy, can be accused of harming the desert tortoise (without proof) and lose their property as a consequence.
As Marcus Stern reports for Reuters, BLM’s second justification for seizing Bundy’s cattle and driving him out of business comes straight out of Harry Reid’s play book: “Reid and his oldest son, Rory, are both involved in an effort by a Chinese energy giant, ENN Energy Group, to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel manufacturing plant in the southern Nevada desert. Reid has been one of the project’s most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on behalf of the project.”
Chinese magnate Wang Yusuo, with an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion, owns ENN Group. In 2011 Reid ventured to ENN’s headquarters in Langfang, China, to tour the company and then worked to get this enormous company favored by the Chinese Communist government to take on development of a massive solar energy project in southern Nevada that would endeavor to supply California with 30% of its energy needs. Wang spoke at Reid’s Fourth Annual National Clean Energy Summit last year.
Reid’s lawyer son, Rory Reid, has been instrumental in his father’s efforts. Rory helped put together the ENN deal, while Harry pushed a clean energy agenda in Nevada that included promotion of solar power, laying the foundation for allowing the Chinese energy company with ties to the Communist government in China to acquire thousands of acres of Nevada public land and build a massive solar farm on it. The ENN Group boasts that its Nevada solar farm will be the largest in North America. Do you think a solar farm less disruptive to the desert tortoise habitat than a few hundred cows? How happy do you think the Communist leadership of the Peoples Republic are in knowing that none other than the Majority Leader of the United States Senate has through family connections enabled one of that government’s favorite sons, Wang Yusuo, to acquire 9,000 acres of American soil for an enterprise that will funnel funds that might otherwise go to American business back to Communist China.
Rory Reid served as chairman of the Clark County Commission, which controls the public lands needed by ENN. With Rory’s firm pulling the strings, Clark County’s commissioners over ruled County staff and voted to sell ENN 9,000 acres of public land for a fraction of the market value. Reuter’s Marcus Stern reports that appraisals of the 9,000 acres put the value at between $29.6 million and $38.6 million, but Reid influence secured it for just $4.5 million. Not only does it pay to be on Harry Reid’s good side, and that of his son’s, it really does not pay to be in Harry Reid’s way.Cliven Bundy’s ranch is in Harry Reid’s way. Reid wants Bundy out of southern Nevada. He wants BLM to do the dirty work, to use Bundy’s failure to pay some $1 million in ridiculously exorbitant grazing fees and penalties as justification for confiscating Bundy’s cattle and shutting down Bundy’s ranch. Then, unencumbered by 900 head of cattle roaming over territory to be industrialized, in will step ENN and transform the desert wilderness into a massive solar energy farm with solar panels cooking the already hot desert into an electrical zone capable of satisfying 30% of California’s energy needs.
Marcus Stern reports: “To advance the Nevada project, ENN retained the state’s largest and most prestigious law firm—Lionel Sawyer & Collins, where Rory Reid works.” Since January 2011, Rory Reid’s firm has been the primary advocate of ENN’s interests before Clark County government. Although the County authorized the fire sale of the 9,000 acres to ENN, it did condition the sale on ENN coming up with customers. That proved difficult, so in stepped Harry Reid. In an online chat, Reid vocalized his desires. He wants Nevada’s number one source of power, NV Energy, to become ENN’s customer.
Harry Reid epitomizes the worst in politics today. He uses his public office for private gain. He is willing to destroy the lives of others to advance his interests and to use the clout of his office to influence the conduct and actions of BLM, where he has stationed a trusted source, his former long-time aide, Neil Kornze, available to do his bidding. To quote Thomas Jefferson (from his April 21, 1803 letter to Benjamin Rush): “. . . law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of an individual.”