Conservative group accuses nine Dem senators of unethical conduct

A conservative group is calling on the Senate ethics committee to examine nine top Democrats, accusing them of pushing the IRS to investigate specific groups.

The Center for Competitive Politics announced their complaint Tuesday, in which they charge that lawmakers tried to get the tax agency to probe outside conservative groups.

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“These senators improperly attempted to use the IRS to suppress the free speech of American citizens for their party’s electoral gain,” said Brad Smith, chairman of the Center and a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “We will fight this type of abuse of power and work to ensure that those who have violated Senate Ethics rules are held to account.”

The group wants the ethics panel to look at Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game Dems: Immigration decision will 'energize' Hispanic voters Senate Dems rip GOP on immigration ruling MORE (Ill.), Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerThis week: Senate showdown over gun control Dems push vulnerable GOP senators on gun control Senate schedules Monday votes on gun control MORE (N.Y.), Carl LevinCarl LevinFight for taxpayers draws fire Gun debate shows value of the filibuster House won't vote on Navy ship-naming restrictions MORE (Mich.), Michael BennetMichael BennetTed Cruz chooses sides in Colorado Senate primary The Trail 2016: Reversal of fortunes Senate compromises on Russian rocket engines MORE (Colo.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's 12:30 Report Hacked computer network mysteriously back online Marketplace for hacked-server sales may be much bigger than reported MORE (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenGOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Overnight Defense: Senate rejects new FBI surveillance powers | Brexit vote looms | Push for new military aid deal with Israel Senators push vote to condemn Russia's 'reckless actions' MORE (N.H.), Al FrankenAl FrankenAl Franken says he would be Clinton's vice president if asked Poll: Sanders, Rubio most popular VP picks Bernie Sanders’s awkward return to the Senate MORE (Minn.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyThe Hill's 12:30 Report Key Sanders ally: Time to get behind Clinton Dem Senate campaign chair endorses Clinton MORE (Ore.), and Tom UdallTom UdallThe Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Energy: Senate spending bill takes aim at EPA rules Senate spending bill trims EPA spending, blocks regs MORE (N.M.).

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, many of those lawmakers openly complained about the influx of groups supposedly focused on social welfare that also engaged heavily in political activity. For example, Levin and other lawmakers sent letters to the IRS asking them to take a close look at such 501(c)(4) organizations, many of them conservative.

Of course, the lawmakers were not shy about making their concerns known. In their complaint, the center cites a press release sent out by Durbin in which he said he wanted the IRS to look into spending by Crossroads GPS, the group founded by Karl Rove.

But the group argues that such calls for IRS investigations amounted to pressure tactics that may have led to audits of conservative groups, or could be seen as campaign activity conducted using official Senate resources. It also argues that their actions ”reflect discreditably upon the U.S Senate.”

The ethics push comes one day after Tea Party Patriots filed their own ethics complaint against Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidSay NO to PROMESA, say NO to Washington overreach Overnight Finance: Wall Street awaits Brexit result | Clinton touts biz support | New threat to Puerto Rico bill? | Dodd, Frank hit back McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns MORE (D-Nev.). The group argued that Reid’s frequent criticisms of billionaire GOP donors Charles and Davic Koch amounted to “unlawfully and unethically targeting private citizens.”

A Reid spokesman dismissed that complaint as a publicity stunt from a group that has received Koch funds.

The group also called for an ethics investigation into Whitehouse for pushing the IRS to look at conservative groups.