Koch brothers fire back at Reid's remark

The Koch brothers fired back at Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidClinton urged to go liberal with vice presidential pick Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Wasserman Schultz fights to keep her job MORE (D-Nev.) Thursday evening after he said the powerful conservative financiers were trying to “buy the country.”

“Sen. Reid’s divisive remarks were not only disrespectful and beneath the office he holds, they were indicative of what lengths he and his Democratic allies will go to eliminate and silence their political opposition,” said Philip Ellender, the president and chief operating officer at Koch Companies Public Sector, in a statement.

The public comments are a rare retort for the company, which spoke on behalf of brothers Charles and David Koch, and stem from an argument on the Senate floor between Reid and Sen. Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellRyan seeks to put stamp on GOP in Trump era Trump and Ryan to speak by phone Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday. 

McConnell decried the Obama administration’s desire to have the Internal Revenue Service more tightly regulate 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups, saying the changes incite “war not just on [the administration’s] opponents, but on free speech itself.” 

Democratic politicians and campaign finance watchdogs have worried that the groups – classified as “social welfare” organizations under the tax code – are unlawfully behaving in political behavior. 

“These social welfare organizations are extremely helpful, but the Koch brothers aren’t a social welfare organization,” Reid said.

Republicans, meanwhile, point to IRS officials admitting last year to giving nonprofit applications with “Tea Party” or “patriot” in the title more scrutiny.

Ellender says new IRS proposals to broaden the definition of political activity would “codify the IRS’ illegal targeting of conservative and free market organizations during the 2012 election cycle” and vowed a continued effort by the Koch brothers.

“Charles Koch and David Koch will continue to exercise their First Amendment rights to advocate for their fundamental beliefs in individual liberty, limited government, and the promotion of policies that help people improve their lives,” he said.

The brothers have been known to write large political checks themselves, but they also operate a network of organizations that funneled more than $400 million into the 2012 elections, according to a report from the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics.

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