Reid camp on GOP earmark attack: “This is a stretch”

Sen. Harry Reid today defended the earmarks he has obtained for a Las Vegas engineering firm whose owners have donated to his campaigns.

Reid through a spokesman rebuffed Republicans who criticized $1.36 million he inserted into a defense bill last year for Arcata Associates for a threat alert system. Another $2 million has been inserted at Reid’s request into a 2011 defense spending bill.

Harry Reid Votes, a GOP group headed by former Nevada Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian, said the spending was "questionable," in light of donations the owners have made to Reid and other Democrats over the years.

"This is a stretch by Republicans who are scared because Angle’s campaign is in shambles," Reid spokesman Jon Summers responded, referring to the incumbent’s challenger Sharron Angle.

Summers maintained Reid’s help was constituent assistance. Arcata "is a Nevada business that has been working with the Defense Department since before Sen. Harry Reid was elected to Congress. They started in Southern Nevada and have expanded to having 450 employees nationwide, many of them still in Las Vegas, where they’re headquartered."

Tim Wong, the company president, said: "There is no quid pro quo relationship between Arcata Associates, Inc. and Senator Reid on the Continuous Threat Alerting Sensing System."

"We communicated with Senator Reid and the rest of the Nevada delegation in our attempt to promote our efforts to develop a CTASS, which we strongly believe will be of considerable value to our nation’s defense," Wong said. He said it uses missile defense technology to provide low cost ground sensors for surveillance purposes.

Arcata Associates "has been a strong member of the Las Vegas business community for over 30 years," Wong said. "During that time, we have contributed to the campaigns of countless local, state and federal candidates of both parties who we believe can most effectively represent the people and businesses of this state, including Senator Reid."

The Wong family has contributed more than $300,000 to a variety of political figures and groups from both parties since 1986, according to federal election figures compiled by CQ Moneyline. Wong is listed on Reid’s campaign website as a member of "Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Harry Reid."

Reid’s campaign and his political action committee received $34,400. The Nevada State Democratic Party was a recipient of $20,050, while the state Republican Party got $3,500. Republican Sen. John Ensign received $14,425. Governor and former congressman Jim Gibbons was given $3,000. Former Republican Rep. Barbara Vucanovich got $4,950.

Wong family members have donated $29,250 to Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, and $3,500 to Democrat Rep. Dina Titus.

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