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Davis County attorney confirms investigation of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid

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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Interstate 11 Boulder City bypass project Monday, April 6, 2015, in Boulder City, Nev. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings confirmed that he is investigating Reid based

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Interstate 11 Boulder City bypass project Monday, April 6, 2015, in Boulder City, Nev. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings confirmed that he is investigating Reid based on evidence he has come across in prosecuting former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

John Locher, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings confirmed that he is investigating U.S. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid based on evidence he has come across in prosecuting former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

In a response to questions this week, Rawlings in a prepared statement said he's looking into Reid and others based on the overlap in facts and witnesses in the Shurtleff case. Shurtleff himself reported what he felt may be potential crimes, Rawlings said.

The direction of the evidence investigators have accumulated demands a thorough vetting by someone with authority do to it, he said, adding that Reid and Shurtleff are presumed innocent and may in fact be innocent.

"However, to simply ignore and run from what has been presented by multiple witnesses and sources, and the potential impact on the Mark L. Shurtleff case, would mean I am either intentionally blind or overly worried," Rawlings said.

Reid's office basically says Rawlings is grandstanding.

“This individual has decided to use Sen. Reid’s name to generate attention to himself and advance his political career, so every few months he seeks headlines by floating the same unsubstantiated allegations, which he admits have been dismissed by federal prosecutors," according to Reid spokeswoman Kristen Orthman.

Rawlings later Wednesday shot back a response to the statement from Reid's office, saying he has no political career, won't run for another office and doesn't need more attention.

"What I do want, to use your terminology, is every scrap of evidence used by federal investigators and prosecutors in unsubstantiating, dismissing or not pursuing the allegations you refer to (thank you)," he wrote.

Rawlings also said he wants to chat with Reid "about the unsubstantiated allegations that were not pursued by federal prosecutors. You may end up being an important witness." He conclude saying, "Your anticipated assistance is greatly appreciated.”

In general, the allegations against Reid center on whether he received money or other benefits from donors and fundraisers in connection with doing political favors or taking official actions. Some of them are related to the online poker industry.

One of the witnesses is indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who for a time processed online poker proceeds through the now-defunct SunFirst Bank in St. George.

Johnson claims online poker figures instructed him to hide illegal campaign contributions to Reid through "straw" donors who were reimbursed from poker accounts in the bank, according to a 2014 Washington Times and ABC News story.

Another Johnson allegation involves a 2010 campaign fundraiser online poker executives hosted for Reid at the Rio casino in Las Vegas. Johnson claims Reid promised to introduce legislation to legalize online gaming if he were re-elected.

Johnson told former Utah Attorney General John Swallow about the fundraiser in the now infamous meeting at Krispy Kreme in Orem that Johnson secretly recorded.

"So after this meeting the poker guys had me write out — get a special check — a bank check, so it doesn't get traced to their account, and give it to some company that I've never heard of before," Johnson says on the recording.

"So I transferred $1 million to some weird company. One-time deal, that's it. And guess what happens the next week? Reid introduces a bill to make online poker legal."

Reid circulated legislation to legalize online gambling in December 2010 but didn't formally introduce it. Reid this year reversed his position and now favors a ban on online gaming.

The Federal Election Commission earlier this year accused Johnson of violating campaign finance laws in donations made to Reid, Shurtleff and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, totaling $170,000. Federal authorities say Johnson used "straw" donors to give about $100,000 to Shurtleff, $50,000 to Lee and $20,000 to Reid.

Johnson also claims Swallow helped arrange a $250,000 payment to a friend who had ties to Reid to derail a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson's Internet marketing company, iWorks. Johnson has described it as a bribe, while Swallow called it lobbying.

Regardless, the FTC filed a civil lawsuit against Johnson in 2010 that is still pending. Reid has disavowed any knowledge of Johnson's case.

Johnson, who faces an 86-count fraud indictment, is also a key figure in the criminal allegations against Shurtleff and Swallow.

Rawlings last year acknowledged that he and Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, who is prosecuting Swallow, came across allegations of wrongdoing by Reid. They said at that time they were not actively investigating the senator but had turned the information over to U.S. Department of Justice.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah opened an investigation into Swallow and Shurtleff in early 2013 but turned it over the DOJ Public Integrity Section, which later declined to file criminal charges against them.

The county prosecutors have expressed frustration that the DOJ investigation ended prematurely.

Rawlings has been trying to get the DOJ to turn over all the evidence it collected in its investigation. The DOJ has delivered thousands of documents, but Rawlings maintains that there is more.

"It is not up to the DOJ to tell me who can and who cannot be investigated and what evidence is relevant and material to a state case," he said in the statement.

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