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Sen. Harry Reid Tries Shoehorning Online Gambling Into Tax Deal

Harry Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. at a Capitol Hill news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010.  Harry Hamburg/FR170004 AP hide caption

itoggle caption Harry Hamburg/FR170004 AP

Sen. Harry Reid appears to subscribe to former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's famous dictum: "You never want to have a serious crisis go to waste."

In Reid's case, the crisis is the partisan fight over extending the Bush tax cuts to all income of the nation's wealthiest individuals and families.

Reid is trying to make it work for some of his gambling industry supporters by attaching language to legalize online poker to the legislation emerging from the compromise between President Obama and congressional Republicans.

Politico first reported on the Nevada Democrat's efforts on Tuesday. An excerpt:

Already, the online poker proposal has exposed the Nevada Democrat to charges of flip-flopping on a controversial issue, as well as using his Senate leadership position to repay big casino interests that helped him win reelection in a hard-fought campaign against Republican Sharron Angle last month.

Reid, who has previously opposed online gambling, declined to comment Monday through a spokesman.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), as well as several senior congressional sources and gambling lobbyists, confirmed that Reid and his staff have reached out to other Senate offices to try to build support for adding the online poker legislation — a draft of which POLITICO has obtained — to a measure extending the Bush-era tax cuts.

The gambling legislation reportedly has little chance of surviving in the final legislation.

Still, this story is guaranteed to make Reid's many haters even more passionate in their disdain, especially since Reid received almost $300,000 in campaign contributions from Harrah's and MGM Grand, two of Las Vegas' largest casino owners. Even some of his supporters have likely raised their eyebrows over this one.

One of the best lines in Politico's story came from someone described as a congressional aide:

“You could call him ‘Harrah Reid’ at this point,” the aide quipped.

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