I'm not going to get into the specifics of the Harry Reid/ Boxing Tickets fiasco which has been well covered by other blogs, most specifically the TPM Muckracker which has been all over the story. In taking something of value from an organization with legislation pending before congress Reid acted unethically, of that there's no question in my mind.
But considering how this story has played out in the news and the blatant push towards conflating Reid's actions with the Republican Culture of Corruption (tm) in an effort towards false equivalence I'm really interested in how this story came about in the first place. Thus far most of the lefty outrage has been leveled at the AP author who wrote the piece; John Solomon. Solomon, though despicably partisan and intellectually lazy, is not the player behind the scenes that started this ball rolling. The true schemer here appears to be John McCain. From Muckracker:
The crux of Solomon's story was that Reid acted wrongly by accepting free boxing tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission. In particular, Solomon focused on a title bout in September 2004 that Reid and McCain both attended. "Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., insisted on paying $1,400 for the tickets he shared with Reid for a 2004 championship fight," Solomon wrote.
But it turns out that it would have been illegal for Reid to reimburse the commission for the seats. That's because these weren't actually tickets - they were credentials with no face value given to V.I.P.'s. And according to the boxing promoter who awarded those credentials to Reid, it is illegal for the commission to accept payment for them. Despite that, McCain insisted on paying, and so the commission simply gave his check (written for a seemingly arbitrary amount) to a charity since it couldn't accept it.
What's more, that same promoter says that in other cases where Reid and McCain received tickets that could be reimbursed, Reid paid. That's a key fact which, if true, was left out of Solomon's article.
Let your mind wrap yourself around McCain's actions here. Senate ethics rules, as loose as they are, allow for a gift like that which he and Reid received from the boxing commission. Yet he tries to pay for the gift anyway and is informed that it would be illegal for the boxing commission to take equivalent payment for the tickets. At some point John "Keating Five" McCain decides that he still finds this morally and ethically reprehensible despite it's legality and sends off a check (for much less than what the face value of actual tickets would be, mind you) to the commission with the understanding that it would go towards charity. All of this just "happens" to find it's way to a reporter unfriendly to Reid with the story being distorted just enough to make it appear McCain paid for the tickets while Reid didn't.
If you buy that I have a lovely scenic spot on the Louisiana coast to sell you.
Muckracker has a current post up proclaiming "AP's Solomon Sucker Punches Reid." If anyone was doing the sucker punching here it was that rat John McCain.