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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (Ill.), Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill This week: Senate wrapping up defense bill after amendment fight Cuomo warns Dems against cutting DACA deal with Trump MORE (N.Y.), Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (Mich.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetGOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts NFL star claims he was victim of 'abusive conduct' by Las Vegas police Gardner throws support behind DREAM Act MORE (Colo.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseJuan Williams: Momentum builds against gerrymandering Overnight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack MORE (R.I.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenWeek ahead: Crunch time for defense bill’s cyber reforms | Equifax under scrutiny Five things to know about the Kaspersky-Russia controversy DHS bans Kaspersky software in federal agencies MORE (N.H.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts Overnight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack MORE (Minn.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill MORE (Ore.), and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallIT modernization measure included in Senate-approved defense policy bill Live coverage: Sanders rolls out single-payer bill Where Dems stand on Sanders's single-payer bill 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 ReidThe Memo: Trump pulls off a stone-cold stunner The Memo: Ending DACA a risky move for Trump Manchin pressed from both sides in reelection fight 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.