Both Kansas senators took to the Senate floor Thursday to hit back against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for saying that the Kansas-based Koch brothers are “un-American.”
“Yesterday two prominent citizens were called unpatriotic merely because they have engaged, legally I must say, in their First Amendment right to participate in the political process,” said Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.
“I was saddened, I was dismayed, I was discouraged to see the floor of the Senate used as a venue for such campaign-related attacks”, said Roberts, who called Democrats’ focus on the Kochs’ political spending “all part of a coordinated plan” and an “abuse of power.”
In two Senate floor speeches on Wednesday, Reid lashed out at Charles and David Koch, the primary owners of Koch Industries, which is based in Wichita, Kansas.
“Despite all that good news [of Obamacare], there’s plenty of horror stories being told. All are untrue, but they’re being told all over America,” said Reid in his first floor speech on Wednesday.
Reid was referencing an ad from Americans for Prosperity which featured Julie Boonstra, a Michigan woman suffering from leukemia who said that she lost her health plan because of Obamacare.
Americans for Prosperity is partially funded by the Kochs, and has spent $30 million in six months against Democrats who have supported Obamacare. The Koch brothers financially support many conservative and libertarian causes.
After a brief uproar at what was seen as Reid calling a cancer patient a liar, the Democratic leader scaled back his comments in another floor speech several hours later.
“I can’t say that every one of the Koch brothers’ ads are a lie, but I’ll say this: Mr. President, the vast, vast majority of them are,” said Reid.
“It’s too bad that they’re trying to buy America,” he said, adding “it’s time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.”
“That really bothers me,” said Kansas Republican Sen. Jerry Moran, who spoke on the Senate floor Thursday, shortly after Roberts. “Accusations about who is un-American are deeply troubling, and to me that is an unfortunate comment when we refer to anyone.”
Other Kansas politicians defended the billionaire brothers against Reid’s comments.
“Senator Reid’s attacks today from the Senate floor are reprehensible,” said Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo in a statement on Wednesday.
“The jobs created by this company are a far greater benefit to the middle class than any wasteful Washington program,” continued Pompeo, who pointed to Koch Industries’ 60,000 U.S. employees as a sign, he said, that they are not ‘un-American’.
Reid has never shied away from attacking the Kochs on the Senate floor. His comments Wednesday mark the third time since the end of January and the seventh time since March 2011 that Reid has referenced the Kochs in the chamber.
On Thursday, Boonstra called on Reid to apologize for calling her a liar.
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