The Obama administration expedited visa applications for about two dozen foreign investors for a Las Vegas casino hotel after pressure from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his staff, the Washington Times reported Tuesday.
The Times, citing internal government documents, said the decision to overturn a prior, normally non-appealable visa decision ultimately benefited several companies whose executives have been heavy Democratic donors.
The paper said it also came despite concerns about “suspicious financial activity” involving some Asian applicants.
Reid, who represents Nevada, personally reached out to the top official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Alejandro Mayorkas, setting in motion a process that ultimately granted expedited status to some two dozen investor visas for the SLS Hotel, formerly known as the Sahara Casino, the Times said.
Reid's office, without denying the report, defended his actions. "Senator Reid has supported and will continue to support the SLS Las Vegas project in any way he can," the statement said. "Sen. Reid believes it is his job to do all he can to promote economic growth and development in the state, and he makes no apologies for helping to bring jobs to Nevada."
Mayorkas is Obama’s current nominee to be the No.2 at the Department of Homeland Security and his appointment was to be reviewed by the Senate Wednesday.
The hotel needed the foreign investors’ visas to be approved so their money could be brought into the country. Within a few weeks of Reid’s intervention, the hotel was able to secure major funding from JP Morgan Chase, the paper said.