On Sunday evening Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s office issued a statement disavowing his involvement or knowledge of a Utah case in which a man told federal investigators that he personally sent money through a series of channels in order to influence the Nevada Democrat to intervene in the Federal Trade Commission case against him, and have it halted.
“Senator Reid has no knowledge or involvement regarding Mr. Johnson’s case,” the statement from Reid’s office said. “These unsubstantiated allegations implying Senator Reid’s involvement are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true.”
The defendant in the case, Jeremy Johnson, has been charged with felony bank fraud, money laundering and other financial offenses.
“The truth is the worst thing I think I’ve done was I paid money knowing it was going to influence Harry Reid,” Jeremy Johnson told the Salt Lake Tribune. “So I’ve felt all along that I’ve committed bribery of some sort there.”
Johnson claims that the current Utah Attorney General John Swallow(R), prior to winning that position, plugged Johnson into a seedy network of businessmen of a less than stellar reputation, including one named Richard Rawle, who owned a chain of check cashing/lending operations. It was Rawle, according to Johnson, who was “Harry Reid’s contact.” Roll Call‘s Niels Lesniewski asserted that Rawle had made contributions to Reid’s political efforts in the past.
Swallow told the Salt Lake Tribune there was no truth to the allegations:
“I can say this emphatically: I have never had a financial arrangement with Mr. Johnson and no money has ever been offered or solicited.”
Johnson claims that in exchange for protection for his internet business I Works from FTC probes he would pay the amount of $600,000 split into two payments, but after the first installment was made the FTC proceeded with the case anyway.
The Federal Trade Commission asserted that Johnson and a number of associates were operating websites which supposedly offered various free products and money making opportunities which collected subscribers credit card information and then charged them repeatedly with erroneous shipping fees.