U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid denied Sunday knowing anything about an alleged attempt to bribe him to intervene in a Federal Trade Commission case.
Jeremy Johnson of Utah told federal investigators he sought to funnel money through an alleged intermediary in hopes of convincing Reid to get the FTC to drop its investigation of him.
"The truth is the worst thing I think I've done was I paid money knowing it was going to influence Harry Reid," Johnson told The Salt Lake Tribune. "So I've felt all along that I've committed bribery of some sort there."
But the Nevada Democrat's office issued a statement distancing Reid from Johnson's claim, the Washington publication Roll Call reported.
"Senator Reid has no knowledge or involvement regarding Mr. Johnson's case," the statement from Reid's office said. "These unsubstantiated allegations implying Senator Reid's involvement are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true."
Federal prosecutors in Utah have charged Johnson with bank fraud, money laundering and other offenses, court records show. The Tribune reported plea negotiations in the case fell apart Friday.
Johnson alleges that before John Swallow was elected Utah attorney general he hooked up Johnson with a businessman named Richard Rawle, now deceased, as someone with ties to Reid.
The Tribune said it was unclear if any money from Johnson ever reached Reid or his political operations, and Swallow denied ever having any financial arrangement with Johnson.
Johnson allegedly believed that in return for $600,000 he would secure Reid's support for getting the FTC to drop its inquiry into an Internet company he operated called I Works. He claims to have paid some of the money, but the FTC investigation went ahead anyway.
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