Lawyers say Harry Reid's son used majority leader as leverage to settle Henderson case

Attorneys involved in that Henderson land lawsuit believe that developer Chris Milam settled because City Attorney Josh Reid used his father, the Senate majority leader, as leverage.
 
The explosive revelation is contained in an email (attached here with attorney-client material redacted) from Todd Kennedy, who represents land consultant Mike Ford, and relays a conversation he had with Milam's attorney while the meidation was occurring last weekend.
 
"Josh apparently stated flat out that a longtime staffer of his father now controls the BLM, and even if Milam wins the case, there will be no patent issued. This had the desired effect on Milam's lenders such that Milam really has no choice at this point."
 

That email from Kennedy was sent shortly before 5 PM last Sunday while the mediation was going on, apparently after he had been updated by Coffing during a break. The reference is to Neil Kornze, who used to be Sen. Reid's natural resource staffer and now is the interim BLM chief.

 
Kennedy said he had no reason to doubt what Coffing told him -- why would Coffing make up such a story? -- and added, "Obviously, if it is true, it is very troubling."
 
Coffing declined to comment. But he also did not deny Reid the Younger said it.
 
I asked Josh Reid via email if if had "invoked your father's relationship with the new BLM chief during the mediation."
 
Josh Reid responded that he had not seen Kennedy's email and "as is common with mediations, during the entire 12 hour mediation I was never in the same room as Milam, his lenders or his lawyers.  Accordingly, I made no representations, comments, statements of any kind to them during the mediation.  Lastly, the City's case was progressing very well and I felt very confident that we would prevail in seeking a Preliminary Injunction, and the Settlement Agreement is a reflection of the strength of our case."

That is very close to a non-denial denial. Sen. Reid's office declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

I tried to get comments from the mediator, ex-Judge Jackie Glass, but she did not respond, surely because such proceedings are confidential.

But here's what I know: Milam believes he simply terminated a mutually agreed upon termination agreement and could have won the case on the merits. But, as Kennedy put it, "To me, this case is obviously very political. I think this case has been very politically driven."

Indeed, it's clear Henderson filed the lawsuit in part to cleanse its reputation after the deal with Milam fell apart, suing several people, including Ford and PR specialist, Lee Haney, who have yet to settle because of a proposed gag order.

Ford and his partner, former national BLM Director Bob Abbey, each have told me they welcome an ongoing inspector general's probe and plan to tell the IG everything they know. Abbey's fury is evident in that story in which he refers to Henderson officials as "f---ing idiots."

Ford has not been shy about criticizing the city. And Abbey, who retired last year after three deacdes in government and now lives in Mississippi, told me, "The frustration I have is that they have attacked my credibility and integrity. That takes years to earn, but it doesn't take much time at all to adversely affect it. I don’t take those allegations lightly."

Abbey said he has been portrayed "as a criminal, actually, financially benefiting, actually. I hope I am given the opportunity during the IG probe to show what role I actually played, what role I might have played. We welcome that investigation. There's nothing there."

When he was nominated to the top post in the BLM in 2009, Sen. Reid said in a statement, "I can’t think of a more qualified person to head the BLM than Bob Abbey." And when he retired last year, the majority leader gushed about Abbey on the Senate floor.