Published Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 | 11:14 a.m.
Updated Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 | 2:58 p.m.
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid today accused Republican congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian of trying to gloss over significant financial troubles that could force him to file bankruptcy either before or after the Nov. 6 election.
Tarkanian and his family are subject to a $17 million judgment to pay the Federal Deposit Insurance Company in the wake of a collapsed real estate deal.
Tarkanian continues to fight the judgment in court, but as of today, he and his family are on the hook for the $17 million.
“So simply, voters need to understand this,” Reid said on a conference call with reporters. “Wouldn’t it be kind of embarrassing to the state of Nevada to have somebody back there with a $17 million judgment against them? A judgment by the federal government?”
In a statement released by his campaign, Tarkanian accused his Democratic rival Steven Horsford of desperation and panic for putting Reid out front as a campaign attack dog on the issue.
“It is disappointing and disturbing that Sen. Reid believes he decides Congressional elections, not the voters of Nevada’s 4th Congressional District," Tarkanian said in the statement. "Apparently, Steven Horsford believes that having Sen. Reid mislead the voters about the circumstances regarding my family’s personal affairs will cause Nevadans to look past his failed record as state senate majority leader, numerous ethical failures, and lack of ideas to help get the people of Nevada back to work.”
Tarkanian is in a close race with Horsford, a two-term state senator. Recent polling by a Republican firm indicated Tarkanian has a 13-point lead in the race despite the fact the district has a heavy Democratic voter registration edge. Those polling numbers, and the fact Horsford has been unable to chalk up a significant lead have had some Democratic insiders nervous about his chances.
Reid tried to dispel that concern.
“All of our polling is going just fine,” Reid said. “Horsford is ahead. He’s not going to lose this race.”
But he acknowledged that Tarkanian has the benefit of a well-known family name.
“Horsford has had to make up a lot of ground on name identification,” Reid said.
Last week, the FDIC moved to begin seizing the Tarkanian family’s Nevada assets to put toward the $17 million judgment after his lawyer failed to file an opposition in time. Tarkanian’s lawyer has since filed that opposition and an Oct. 22 hearing is scheduled on the matter.
Tarkanian claims he and his family are the victims of fraud in the deal to develop an “equestrian destination resort” in Southern California. They borrowed money from La Jolla Bank to lend to the developer, using their own personal property as collateral for the bank loan.
But then the developer went broke and the bank collapsed, leaving the Tarkanian family responsible for paying the FDIC back.
Tarkanian denies he will be forced into bankruptcy prior to the election, noting he’s pursuing all legal means to appeal the judgment. But he acknowledged the possibility exists after the election, for both himself and his family members who were part of the deal.
But Reid said Tarkanian is relying on “legal gyrations” to cloud the facts.
“This is the big stall,” Reid said. “He’s doing everything he can to make sure he doesn’t have to belly up to the bar before Nov. 6.”
Reid then said the “FDIC rarely, rarely loses, especially on a slam dunk like this.”
Reid said he has nothing personal against Tarkanian, who ran in a Republican primary against Reid in 2010. Reid noted he’s supported Tarkanian’s father, former UNLV basketball coaching legend Jerry Tarkanian, in his past troubles with the NCAA and has supported Tarkanian’s mother, Las Vegas councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, in her political races.
On Twitter, Tarkanian’s spokesman Ron Futrell questioned whether Reid’s comments compromised the case.
“As a powerful member of the (federal government), has Reid just tainted any judgment the Feds might make in this case?” Futrell wrote.