Utah officials want federal corruption probe of Sens. Reid, Lee

Two Utah prosecutors working with the FBI have uncovered accusations of wrongdoing against two U.S. senators, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and rising Republican star Mike Lee (Utah), according to ABC News and The Washington Times. 

The prosecutors are urging the Justice Department to pick up the case and investigate it using a federal grand jury with subpoena power, but so far the department has declined to do so.

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The accusations, which emerged as part of a larger investigation of political corruption in the state of Utah, largely turn on whether the two senators inappropriately sought out or received money or benefits in exchange for promising political favors.

For instance, indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson told the prosecutors that Reid was convinced to switch from opposing to supporting online poker after industry leaders gave him a kickback. Reid’s office has contended that the senator’s switch merely reflected a general political shift in the state of Nevada.

Johnson also said that he was ordered by figures in the online poker world to disguise illegal contributions to both Reid and Lee by finding “straw donors” who would be reimbursed for contributions they made.

Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson told ABC News the two Utah prosecutors were engaging in “nothing but a fever-brained witch hunt.”

Lee, meanwhile, has been probed regarding a home sale he made to a campaign contributor and federal contractor. Lee sold the home at a significant loss.

“The purchase of the house was completely aboveboard so there was little to consider about appearances,” Lee spokesman Brian Phillips said in a statement provided to the Times.

“Could there be an innocent explanation for [the evidence]? Possibly. Could there be a more sinister explanation for it? That’s also possible,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill (D) told ABC News.

Both senators’ spokesmen said their bosses had never been contacted by the FBI or the prosecutor’s office as part of the investigation.