Reid Urges Crackdown on Polygamist Sects

Posted July 24, 2008 at 2:41pm

In a rare committee appearance before a packed audience, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called on his colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to go after polygamist sects that have formed into “sophisticated, wealthy and vast criminal organization[s].”

Recalling his days prosecuting mobsters as head of the Nevada Gaming Commission, Reid called polygamist communities “a form of organized crime” guilty of welfare fraud and tax evasion, in addition to child and spousal abuse. He stressed the need for federal-state cooperation in prosecuting the sects and highlighted his newly introduced legislation that would create a task force on the matter and authorize $2 million in grant money for polygamy victims.

The hearing included three panels of witnesses, and much of the discussion focused on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a religious group that drew wide attention earlier this year when its polygamist sect in West Texas was raided, revealing a community filled with plural marriages and alleged criminal activity.