WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is leading a crusade against the Koch brothers, whose name is pronounced "coke," blasting them for pouring millions of dollars into campaigns to boost conservative candidates.
"Senate Republicans, madam president, are addicted to Koch," Reid said today on the Senate floor.
Reid's vocal opposition to the wealthy conservative moneymen kicked off last week, when he took to the Senate floor and accused the Koch brothers of "trying to buy America" and supporting a group running ads that he said are "absolutely false." The Nevada senator continued his string of attacks today.
"What is un-American is when shadow billionaires pour unlimited money into our democracy to rig the system and benefit themselves and the wealthiest 1 percent," Reid said.
"I'll continue to shine a light on this subversion of democracy," Reid said. "As long as the Koch brothers continue to spend tens of millions of dollars to buy elections, I'm going to do all I can to expose their intentions."
The billionaire Koch brothers - Charles and David - financially back Americans For Prosperity, a conservative group that is running ads against Democrats focused on the Affordable Care Act. One of the ads is aimed at Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat seeking the open Senate seat in Michigan. A Michigan woman talks about her battle with leukemia and said Peters' support of Obamacare "jeopardized her health" after her insurance was cancelled due to healthcare law.
Groups associated with the Koch brothers defended the billionaire brothers' involvement in campaigns.
"It is clear that there is a big difference between the vision of Senator Reid and of Koch as it relates to the future direction of this country," Philip Ellender, president of Koch Companies Public Secotr LLC, said. "We are disappointed that Senator Reid is attacking private citizens rather than the problems facing this nation. It is no wonder that Americans have lost faith in Congress."
"Americans know better than to take lessons in civic virtue from Senator Reid, a career politician who has spent decades in Congress, and now descends from his Ritz Carleton penthouse to mislead Americans," Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, said. "Instead of taking responsibility for ObamaCare's failures, Senator Reid and his allies are going after those who have been harmed by the law and brave enough to speak out - and Americans for Prosperity, for giving these Americans a voice."
After Reid railed against the Koch brothers, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell noted the Nevada senator did not point out the activity of Tom Steyer, a wealthy Democratic billionaire who plans to pour millions into a campaign on climate change during this midterm election.
"It strikes me as curious that if we are going to demonize people for exercising their constitutional rights to go out and speak and participate in the political process, we would just pick out the people that are opposed to us and leave out the people who are in favor of us," McConnell said.
"These American citizens have a constitutional right to participate in the political process," McConnell said. "There are many wealthy Americans who feel deeply about the country, who feel committed to one side or the other, who are trying to have an impact on the country."