The Federal Election Commission wants an explanation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about more than $16,000 in campaign spending on “gifts,” some of which found its way into the pocket of the Reid family. Reid was forced to admit that the “Ryan Elisabeth” on the disbursement funds was actually Ryan Elisabeth Reid, his granddaughter, who supplied jewelry for Reid’s campaign to hand out to supporters:

The Federal Election Commission has sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s campaign, asking for more information on why he listed an expenditure of more than $11,000 $16,000 in “holiday gifts.”

The gifts, I have learned, were purchased from his granddaughter, Ryan Elisabeth Reid, who is a jewelry vendor in Berkeley, CA. The gifts were later passed on to donors and supporters, a Reid spokeswoman told me.

Reid has previously been asked to explain holiday gifts to his Ritz Carlton doorman by the FEC. But in the letter from the FEC sent last week, the agency wants to know what payments of  $11,370 and $5,416 (UPDATED) were. “Itemized disbursements must include a brief statement or description of why each disbursement was made,” the letter said.

Reid’s granddaughter is listed only as “Ryan Elisabeth” on the FEC report, which is attached here (see page 166). But her full name is Ryan Elisabeth Reid.

Reid will reimburse the campaign, but the questions remain:

Federal rules actually do allow for candidates to buy things from family members, provided they pay fair market value for the items.

In the case of the gifts, though, that value also matters. FEC rules state that such gifts must be of “nominal value.” …

The Washington Post has asked Reid’s campaign precisely what kind of gifts the money was used to purchase. The campaign has yet to respond to multiple inquiries.

Paul Ryan, an election lawyer at the Campaign Legal Center, said “you’d need to buy a heck of a lot of gifts of ‘nominal’ value to spend $16,000.”

And you’d usually use the full name of the manufacturer, no?

Jon Ralston of Ralston Reports — who originally reported the probe — calls the optics “just horrific” (via Newsalert):

“I’m not sure talking about the Koch Brothers will change this subject, Senator,” Ralston advises Reid. Maybe not, but Reid has always been shameless about his episodes of projection, so don’t expect Reid to stop trying to change the optics with more Kochsteria.

By the way, shouldn’t the Senate Ethics Committee take an interest in this, too?