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Is the Mainstream Media Ignoring Questions About the Harry Reid Land Deal?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 17, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: A page tonight from the “Hannity & Colmes” notebook: The Democratic Party doesn't look much like the people they claim to represent these days. In fact, the leadership of the people's so-called party probably wouldn't be caught dead at a party with the people they claim to represent.

Now, according to The New York Sun, for example, Ned Lamont, the champion of the anti-war left, well, he spent $10 million of his own money on his campaign in Connecticut, which he can afford as the heir to the J.P. Morgan fortune.

Hillary Clinton, well, she lives in a 2.8-million-dollar mansion in Washington and that doesn't, by the way, count the, well, $900,000 expansion that she recently spent on it.

And, by the way, don't forget her $1.7-million house in Chappaqua, New York. That has five bedrooms and costs more than many hard working New Yorkers will earn in a lifetime.

And then, of course, Senator John Kerry lives in a $10-million town house in Beacon Hill in Boston. That's when he isn't hanging 10 at his home in Nantucket.

They take the phrase limousine liberal to a whole new level.

So it shouldn't be a surprise when we learn that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is in hot water for illegally using campaign funds to pay for Christmas bonuses at his condominium at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington. Well, now that he's been caught, he is paying back the money.

And, of course, there's the Senator Reid land deal which caught the attention of reporters last week. The minority leader has said that he will change his ethics filing with the Senate to represent more than $1 million that he made off the deal but, again, only after he was caught.

Joining us now to explain all of this is the latest example of some Democratic excess. Syndicated columnist, FOX News contributor Robert Novak.

First thing that stands out here, you don't see as much in the newspapers about this, Bob Novak, and I wonder if it would be the same if it was a Republican.

ROBERT NOVAK, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You sure don't. It's one of those strange things. And you know, the — Senator Reid, of course, this is a Republican attempt to cut him up and obscure the Democratic scandals. And it is interesting that these scandals on both sides all come out as the election nears, within one month of the election. And we haven't seen the last of it.

But the problem with Senator Reid is that he, like many other people on both sides of the aisle, use their office for personal gain. They make these land deals, and they get — he made $1.1 million on it— it's always done through a third party. -- This was done through somebody who's been a casino lawyer in Nevada, who has also been the subject of organized crime investigations. And, of course, the answer is, Well, we just didn't — the lawyer said it was OK to do it or we just haven't had a chance to put the notation in our filing form for our financial transactions.

HANNITY: Two separate issues here. First of all, he lives in the Ritz. I guess a man of the people. And he's using, for example, campaign donations to pay for these Christmas bonuses.

And then we've got this $400,000 investment in a parcel of land. He transfers the land to a corporation set up to lobby officials to change the status and the zoning of the particular land. The zoning changes made against the will of the people who usually make those decisions.

The land is sold for $700,000 profit in a short period of time. He doesn't report the transfer of property into the corporation on a Senate financial form, which he's supposed to do. And now all the sudden he's caught [and he says] oh, I'll just fix this.

NOVAK: And he gets a $1.1 million windfall!

If I can get a little philosophical about this, Sean. When I first came here it will be 50 years next May. There was, with few exceptions, most of these people felt that they had made a choice to be in politics rather than in business.

And now you find so many people, I'll be fair, on both sides of the aisle who act like businessmen. They make these transactions. They cover them up. And they make the deals with very rich people who are — who are their business associates-- but their political supporters.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Bob, there was no real cover up here. Harry Reid filed the financial disclosure forms between 1998 and 2004 during the years when he owned the land. He wasn't attempting to hide anything. They transferred some of the paperwork to a third corporation, which he also was a partner in and that was also part of this disclosure.

NOVAK: He said he has admitted that they were remiss in not having a full disclosure. That's why they are amending the disclosure.

But I'm making a broader point. I think that these transactions by these people, by these members of Congress who are supposed to be public servants, making land deals, which result from favorable zoning decisions getting a $1.1-million transaction. -- I don't think that's right for a United States senator.

COLMES: Was there any evidence he used his office to gain that money, or was it a good real estate investment from which he and many other people who make these kind of deals to benefit? What evidence does he ...

NOVAK: I don't think they should be making these investments. The investment was made by a fellow who has a very bad reputation in Las Vegas who he made the deal with. And he used his influence.

Maybe he had — maybe he was using Reid's name. We don't know that, but he used his influence to get this zoning deal.

The question — let's just ask the question. When they don't let Senator Coburn deliver babies. They say that's a conflict of interest. When they don't let somebody write an article for pay. And they let these fellows make these wheeler-dealer deals, I think “Hannity & Colmes” can get together on this and say U.S. senators should not be engaged in this type of activity.

COLMES: Are you saying a U.S. senator or a representative should not be allowed to invest in real estate while they hold office?

NOVAK: I don't think they should have these deals where they benefit from a public decision such as a zoning action. Now, I'm — unlike you, I go both ways on this. I was very critical of Speaker Hastert when he made a million-dollar deal based on an earmark. These people, I think, should be doing the public business and worrying less about their investments.

HANNITY: All right. Bob Novak, thanks for shedding light on this. Appreciate your time.

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