Reid Staffer Accused of Sham Marriage, Is No Longer With Office

Posted October 25, 2010 at 10:05pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s press secretary for Hispanic media is no longer with the Nevada Democrat’s office following allegations that she accepted compensation for marrying a Lebanese man who was seeking U.S. residency.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley confirmed that Diana Tejada is no longer with the office but would not clarify whether she was fired, saying he could not go into the details of a personnel matter.

Fox News reported late Monday evening that Tejada misrepresented the nature of her 2003 marriage to Bassam Mahmoud Tarhini to federal officials. But she then indicated in 2008 that she had married Tarhini for the sole purpose of obtaining residency for him and that she had received payment for some expenses in return for the marriage, according to Fox News.

Manley said Reid’s office had not been aware of the allegations against Tejada before the Fox News report.

Tarhini pleaded guilty to entering a fraudulent marriage to evade immigration laws in 2009 and was deported March 3, 2010. Tejada was never charged. She filed for divorce March 16, and it was finalized July 6, Fox News reported.

Tejada, who started working for Reid in 2008, was the Senator’s liaison to the Hispanic community and served as press secretary of Hispanic media for the Senate Democratic Conference.

Illegal immigration has been a flash point in the Senate race between Reid and GOP challenger Sharron Angle, and the Democratic leader has been working hard to turn out as much of the Hispanic vote as possible.

“Following an internal investigation, the staffer at issue is no longer with our office,” Manley wrote in an e-mail in response to the Fox News report. “The conduct alleged, which took place several years before the staffer worked for Senator Reid, was clearly wrong. But the bottom line remains that this story was a desperation measure by partisan republicans, who have stooped to slinging mud about junior staffers to score points in the waning days of her campaign.”