Harry Reid once accused John Boehner of being a dictator. Boehner responded by telling Reid, “Go f--k yourself.”
Now the two former congressional leaders are joining hands to head up a new think tank at UNLV in a partnership with MGM Resorts International, which swayed the two political heavyweights to head up the new institute after signing them up as paid consultants, The Nevada Independent has learned.
“While our public opposition on issues may be more storied than our private friendship, we have successfully collaborated on complex problems and signature ideas and look forward to doing so again,” Boehner and Reid said in a joint statement. “As passionate and committed believers in the importance of public service, we are eager to work with MGM Resorts and UNLV to inspire a new generation to serve their country through public office.”
Reid has a long history with MGM Resorts. Indeed, Chairman Jim Murren did a TV ad for Reid in 2010, and Reid helped the company, along with the gaming industry, during the recession.
Many had speculated Reid would end up with MGM in some capacity after his public career. (The first clue came in January when MGM opened a DC office headed by a former Reid aide.)
It seems clear that Murren wanted to bring in someone of great stature on the GOP side to balance Reid, and Boehner, who notably attended the opening of the new DC-area MGM resort, a few months ago, fits the bill.
“As a company, we have been looking to take a broader leadership role in public policy,” MGM executive Vice President and General Counsel John McManus said in an interview. “We don’t want to just sit back and let things happen.”
The MGM Resorts Public Policy Institute at UNLV will not just focus on gaming but broader issues of tourism, jobs and international issues related to tourism. McManus said white papers and forums are likely.
“The real key to this is it is bipartisan and solution-based and produces observations that are actually useful to people,” McManus said.
Reid and Boehner agreed to co-chair the think tank as part of non-exclusive consulting agreements both former leaders have with the gaming giant.
The think tank will be within the the Greenspun College of Urban Affairs. It requires a stamp of approval from the Board of Regents.