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 Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility House panel investigating decision to resume federal executions To combat domestic terrorism, Congress must equip law enforcement to fight rise in white supremacist attacks MORE (Ill.), Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAppropriators warn White House against clawing back foreign aid Colorado candidates vying to take on Gardner warn Hickenlooper they won't back down Trump ahead of New Hampshire speech: Lewandowski would be 'fantastic' senator MORE (N.Y.), Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (Mich.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Recession fears climb and markets dive — now what? Hickenlooper expected to end presidential bid on Thursday MORE (Colo.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies Democrats give cold shoulder to Warren wealth tax MORE (R.I.), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenLewandowski says he's 'happy' to testify before House panel The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (N.H.), Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Al Franken urges Trump to give new speech after shootings: 'Try to make it sound like you're sincere, even if you're not' MORE (Minn.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySenate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico Schumer backs Pelosi as impeachment roils caucus MORE (Ore.), and Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallDemocrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Republicans should get behind the 28th Amendment New Mexico says EPA abandoned state in fight against toxic 'forever chemicals' 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 Mason Reid2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Reid says he wishes Franken would run for Senate again Panel: How Biden's gaffes could cost him against Trump 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.