Tea Party hits Reid with ethics charge over Koch brothers

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Tea Party Patriots has filed a complaint against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) with the Senate Ethics Committee to protest his repeated attacks against Charles and David Koch.

Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, filed the complaint, charging Reid with “unlawfully and unethically targeting private citizens.”

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The complaint further states that Reid “has misused Senate staff or resources to engage in partisan campaign activity in violation of federal laws and Senate rules.”

Reid has repeatedly slammed the Koch brothers, two of the richest men in the world, for funding attack ads against Democratic candidates. 

Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the Kochs, reportedly plans to spend $125 million on the midterm elections to help Republicans capture a Senate majority.

Reid has called the brothers “un-American” and accused them of “trying to buy America.” 

He argues they are trying to defeat Democratic senators in order to undermine environmental regulations and enhance the profits of Koch Industries Inc. Environmentalists estimate the brothers' manufacturing business releases 200,000 tons of atmospheric carbon annually. 

“These billionaire oil tycoons are certainly experts at contributing to climate change. That’s what they do very well. They are one of the main causes of this. Not a cause, one of the main causes,” Reid said last month. 

Tea Party Patriots has accused the senator of using government resources to wage a personal campaign against the Koch brothers from the Senate floor and the majority leader’s office.

“It’s been generations since a member of the Senate has abused the power of his office to attack private citizens the way Harry Reid has sought to vilify Charles and David Koch,” Martin said.

She said Reid’s tactics are “nothing more than a continuation of the thuggish intimidation campaign mounted by the Obama administration to target and silence people and organizations Democrats disagree with.”

In March, Reid accused the Koch brothers of unlawful business practices, including violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Citing a 2011 report by Bloomberg Markets magazine, Reid accused them on the Senate floor of paying bribes and kickbacks to win contracts in Africa, India and the Middle East.

A spokesman for Reid dismissed the complaint as a publicity stunt.

"We are shocked — shocked! — that a publicity-seeking, extremist Tea Party group which has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Koch brothers’ secret bank would attempt a frivolous publicity stunt to distract from the Kochs' efforts to rig the system for billionaires like themselves,” said Adam Jentleson.

“The shadowy, billionaire Koch brothers are pulling out all the stops to get Senator Reid to stop shining a light on their efforts to buy our democracy, but he will not be silenced,” he added.

The Louisiana Republican Party asked the Senate ethics panel, officially known as the Select Committee on Ethics, in April to investigate Reid’s use of his official website and Twitter account to criticize the Koch brothers. 

--This report was updated at 3:03 p.m.