WASHINGTON – Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not break Senate rules in accepting free ringside seats at boxing matches from the Nevada Athletic Commission, the Ethics Committee has concluded.
The committee disclosed the determination in a Dec. 7 letter to Las Vegas resident Robert Rose, who had filed a complaint on the matter.
The Associated Press reported earlier this year that Reid, D-Nev., attended three Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 without paying, using credentials provided by the Nevada Athletic Commission, a state agency. Reid was supporting legislation during this period to create a federal agency to oversee boxing, something the commission opposed.
The legislation passed the Senate but died in the House.
At the time Reid defended attending the matches, saying it helped him understand boxing regulations, but he acknowledged it didn't look right and said he wouldn't do it again.
Senate rules bar senators from accepting gifts worth more than $50 but make an exception for anything paid for by federal, state or local government. The rules also specify that senators should be wary of accepting any gift where it appears there is a desire to influence official action.
"There is not substantial credible evidence which provides substantial cause for the committee to conclude that a violation within the jurisdiction of the committee has occurred," the committee's chief counsel and staff director, Robert L. Walker, wrote to Rose.
Attendance at the matches "was a matter appropriately left to (Reid's) discretion," Walker wrote. The committee will take no further action and the matter is dismissed, the letter said.
"What can I tell you? That's Washington," Rose said of the decision.
Reid spokesman Jon Summers said: "The letter makes it clear that there wasn't a violation, but Sen. Reid realizes that it didn't look right and he's said that he shouldn't have done it and is not going to do it again in the future."