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October 1, 2014

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Federal Election Commission still wanting Reid to explain payment to granddaughter for ‘holiday gifts’

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., walks to meet with reporters following a Democratic policy luncheon at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded to a question today about whether it was wrong for his campaign to pay his granddaughter almost $17,000 for “holiday gifts,” it was clear Reid wanted to put a lid on the story.

“No in fact, it wasn’t (wrong),” said Reid, who late Tuesday announced he’d be paying his campaign back all the money it had paid to Ryan Elisabeth Reid, his granddaughter. “As I said, I just wanted to avoid — and I’m very fortunate that I can write that check, so it’s all done.”

But it isn’t necessarily done yet, as far as the Federal Election Commission is concerned.

The FEC would not comment specifically on Reid’s case. But a spokeswoman for the FEC explained today to the Sun that a candidate’s decision to refund to a campaign any money that may have been misspent does not end the candidate’s responsibility to provide a reckoning of the discrepancy to the FEC.

In its initial letter to Friends of Harry Reid, the FEC demanded the campaign “include a brief statement or description … to clarify” why the campaign had paid almost $17,000 to Ryan Elisabeth Reid for “holiday gifts,” in two lump sums on October 23 of last year. Ryan Elisabeth Reid was listed only as Ryan Elisabeth on the disbursement reports.

The FEC wants a response by April 25. Once it gets that response, it’s still up to the FEC whether to accept Reid’s explanation and repayment as apology or continue to press into the matter. Should the FEC determine the matter warrants more action, it could come either in the form of an audit or some type of enforcement action.

A spokeswoman for Reid confirmed Tuesday the campaign had paid Reid’s granddaughter for jewelry given out as holiday gifts from the campaign.

Reid, in a prepared statement Tuesday, said he “thought it would be nice to give supporters and staff thank-you gifts that had a personal connection and a Searchlight connection.”

Ryan Elisabeth Reid is originally from Las Vegas and went to art school in New York. Her address on the Reid campaign’s disbursement form is listed as Berkeley, Calif. Ryan Elisabeth Reid is the oldest child of Rory Reid, Harry Reid’s oldest son. Rory Reid ran for Nevada governor in 2010.

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