AP’s John Solomon – One More for the Road

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AP reporter John Solomon seems to think that the best defense is yet more bamboozlement.

Remember back to Solomon’s initial version of his story on Harry Reid’s acceptance of ringside boxing seats. Solomon claimed that Reid shouldn’t have accepted them to avoid the appearance of impropriety. He didn’t explicitly note that Reid actually voted against the guys who gave him the ringside seat credentials. But he didn’t allege a quid pro quo either.

But now he seems to be saying that maybe it was a quid pro quo.

Check down in today’s piece on Reid:

Reid told AP the free tickets did not influence his position, noting he voted for the legislation when it passed the Senate. However, Reid had forced a change in the bill that let the federal commission regulate the TV networks when they promoted fights. After the change, the House never approved the legislation.

For those of us who speak the English language these two sentences have a pretty straightforward meaning. Reid says the tickets didn’t influence his position, “however”, ergo, on the contrary, he pushed for this change about regulating TV networks. And “after the change” the House didn’t approve the bill. Again, going by basic English, the pretty clear suggestion is that Reid’s change had something to do with the bill not making it through the House.

In other words, Solomon is saying one of two things, or maybe both. Either the Commission — the folks who gave Reid the credentials — wanted this TV network change or maybe the TV network change was a poison pill, meant to torpedo the bill the House, a backdoor way of killing the legislation.

If there’s some other way to understand Solomon’s words, seriously, let us know.

I don’t know much about boxing regulation. So I got on the phone to make some calls.Was the state commission in favor of this TV network regulation as part of the new federal commission? Hard to figure since they didn’t want the commission at all.

But were they? Apparently not. Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, told me that they’ve “taken no position on that issue.” The issue was a bureaucratic matter of whether the networks should be classified as promoters or not. Kizer said such a classification didn’t affect the commission either way. It’s academic.

So maybe the TV network thing was a poison pill that KO’d the bill in the House?

Nope. Apparently not that either.

House Republicans have consistently, over a number of years, been opposed to a federal boxing commission for one overarching reason: they don’t want federal oversight in boxing, period. As Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) said on the floor of Congress, “This is a big government bill that creates a new Federal agency.” Whether TV networks were classified as promoters or not didn’t make any difference to them. And it doesn’t seem to have had anything to do with the bill’s fate.

According to a Democratic source in the House involved in trying to get the bill passed, “The Republicans voted it down because they didn’t want increased federal oversight. ‘States rights’ were a big subject of the debate. The breakdown of the vote reflects that.”

The bill was defeated 233-190, with most Republicans voting against it.

Moreoever, for this to have been some sneaky gambit by Reid, you’d think he wouldn’t be so vocal about it. But Reid has consistently – literally for years – lobbied for the networks to be classified as promoters. In 1999, he testified in a Senate committee hearing on a past incarnation of the bill that such a measure should be included. That history makes it pretty hard to believe he intended it as a poison pill.

So let’s read that passage again with what we know now …

Reid told AP the free tickets did not influence his position, noting he voted for the legislation when it passed the Senate. However, Reid had forced a change in the bill that let the federal commission regulate the TV networks when they promoted fights. After the change, the House never approved the legislation.

Is there any way to think this isn’t yet another Solomon bamboozle? And the worst yet?

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