Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been in a Koch-fueled rage, seizing moments left and right (mostly from the left) to bash Charles and David Koch. But the senator’s preoccupation with the mega-donating business titans may have gotten him into some trouble, as one taxpayer-funded post to his website could have landed Reid in some ethically dirty water.
For the last several weeks, the Kochs have been the two people Reid loves to hate, and the Senate Majority Leader has made bashing the brothers his hobby – from the Senate floor.
But while Reid’s rants raised the eyebrows of political pundits and poll-watchers alike for several days — a George Washington University Battleground Poll found that a majority of Americans have no clue who the Koch brothers are — his diatribes have persisted.
The Kochs first became Reid’s obsessive target after an ad from the organization Americans for Prosperity — a nonprofit funded by the brothers — aired in Michigan. The ad featured a woman named Julie Boonstra, a cancer patient who said she lost her health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, and called on Michigan residents to oust Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who is running for the U.S. Senate.
The ad did not make Reid happy.
The Nevada Democrat took to the Senate floor in February to denounce the ad — and the Koch brothers — and said that all Obamacare “horror stories” are “untrue.”
That same day, Reid took to his Twitter account to rant about the brothers, saying that they were trying to deceive Americans about Obamacare.
The Koch Brothers are spending millions of dollars to deceive Americans about Obamacare. http://t.co/va4QH1glQb— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) February 26, 2014
Less than a week later, Reid continued his crusade to bring down the Koch brothers. Speaking on the Senate floor, the Senate Majority Leader tried out a Koch-pun, saying that “Republicans are addicted to Koch.”
Reid criticized his colleagues on the other side of the aisle for taking millions from the brothers.
But no Reid-rant would be complete without accompanying Twitter posts.
It's un-American when shadowy billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system for themselves and the wealthiest 1%.— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) March 4, 2014
The Kochs’ extreme vision for America means abolishing Social Security and eliminating minimum wage laws. http://t.co/7rklSf3Dxm— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) March 4, 2014
The Senate Majority Leader even went so far as to draft an entire memo about the Koch brothers’ “radical agenda” and attempted to spread the #AddictedtoKoch hashtag after Republicans came to the pair’s defense.
As Senate Democrats took to the Senate floor on March 11 to discuss climate change, Reid found a way to denounce the brothers there, too.
It's time to stop acting like deniers – like the Koch brothers and those addicted to them – have a valid point of view. #Up4Climate— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) March 10, 2014
He then created and published a video centered on his “Addicted to Koch” theme, which included Republicans standing up for the brothers, and blamed the duo for the Senate’s failure to pass benefits for Ukrainians and unemployment.
A recess in the Senate brought an end — temporarily — to Reid’s journey to end the Koch brothers. But as March turned to April, he got right back in the saddle.
Reid criticized Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget resolution for being a “blueprint of modern Kochtopia.”
And, in his most recent stunt, Reid took his spot behind the podium on the Senate floor once again to request Republicans in Congress wear Koch brothers insignia, much in the same way NASCAR drivers wear the logos of their corporate sponsors (via POLITICO).
Reid even went so far as to commission a mockup of just what the Koch-wearing congressmen would look like.
But one of Reid’s anti-Koch actions may have violated Senate ethics rules, the Washington Examiner reported Thursday.
Remember that memo outlining the Koch brothers’ “radical” agenda? According to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, “partisan” material on members’ websites is prohibited, as the sites are publicly funded. The post, which was displayed on the senator’s homepage, was moved to a different page after the Examiner prodded.
“Official websites are paid for and supported by official funds,” Rob Walker, former staff director for the House and Senate ethics committees, told the Examiner. “Official funds are to be used under the terms of which they were appropriated to use for official purposes only. So you can’t use official websites for campaign or partisan political purposes.”
Looks like Reid’s Koch-fueled rage may have gotten him in a bit of trouble.