Since becoming majority leader, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has used the power of his position to appoint, recommend or support 19 Nevadans to key positions on national boards or commissions.
Some of these bodies decide issues important to Nevada, including base closures, regulation of nuclear facilities, energy, public lands and now the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Reid appointed two Las Vegans for the 10-person commission — Heather Murren and businessman and attorney Byron Georgiou.
Read more in my column Thursday about Murren’s daunting task investigating the why behind the financial crisis of 2008 — and how to prevent it in the future.
Meanwhile, here’s the full list provided by the senator’s office of the other 17 Nevadans serving on national commissions or boards with the helpful backing of Reid:
— Greg Jazcko, chairman of Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which focuses on safety and security of nuclear facilities.
— Jim Bilbray, former member Base Realignment and Closure Commission, who helped save all Nevada military installations, including Hawthorne Army Depot, which was slated for closure. Current member of Postal Board of Governors.
— Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, and an advocate of renewable energy.
— Bob Abbey, director of Bureau of Land Management.
— Sarah Mersereau-Adler, Nevada State Director for Rural Development.
— Clint Koble, Nevada State Director for USDA Farm Services Agency.
— Vince Juarisiti, former member Corporation for National and Community Service Board. Recommended for the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies Board.
— Jill Derby, recommended to the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies Board.
— Steve Walther, chairman of Federal Election Commission.
— Dana Bilyeu, now on Social Security Advisory Board and recommended to the Federal Thrift Retirement Board.
— Dr. Javaid Anwar, the Harry Truman Scholarship Foundation Board.
— Dr. Ikram Khan, U.S. Institute of Peace Board.
— Carlos Ezeta, National Museum of the American Latino Commission.
— Shawn Gerstenberger, Mickey Leland National Urban Air Toxic Research Center Board.
— Elaine Wynn, Library of Congress Trust Fund Board.
— Emma Sepulveda, National Museum of the American Latino Commission.
— Dan Klaich, National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.
Now the cynical among us will take that list and see how many donated to Reid’s campaign, but just a glance shows some were longtime supporters of the senator.
Meanwhile, there’s no disputing that the 19 Nevadans, with a few exceptions like Elaine Wynn, probably wouldn’t have been in those positions if Harry Reid hadn’t been the Democratic majority leader in the Senate.
Maybe voters don’t care about the perks of power and don’t think it’s significant, but a new junior senator isn’t going to be in that position. And if Reid loses and John Ensign becomes the senior senator under a Democratic administration, don’t count on Nevadans enjoying partisan perks.
But then, does that really matter?
The Bilbray appointment is an example where it did matter. He played defense on base closings and was able to keep a military installation from closing. So yes, in some cases, having a Nevadan play offense or defense sometimes does matter.