Political allies are coming to the defense of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who continues to make the unsubstantiated charge that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney didn’t pay his taxes.
The Democratic leader from Nevada started a firestorm last week by repeating an allegation, which he claims he heard from a knowledgeable source, that the Republican challenger didn’t pay taxes for 10 years.
Reid, who admits he’s unsure if the accusations are true, refuses to disclose the identity of his source, who he says is an investor of Romney’s former company Bain Capital. He has called on Romney –- who has released two years worth of IRS filings — to release more tax returns to put the issue to rest.
Romney’s campaign says he has released plenty of financial documents, while the candidate himself had called Reid’s accusation “untrue, dishonest and inaccurate.”
On Monday, Reid got the backing of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who told the left-leaning Huffington Post that Reid wasn’t lying. The Senate majority leader, Pelosi argued, was just repeating an allegation he heard from someone else.
“Harry Reid made a statement that is true,” Pelosi said. “Somebody told him. It is a fact.”
Also on Monday, the AFL-CIO’s super PAC announced that they’re backing Reid with an online petition. They also plan to make light of the issue through protests at Romney events.
Over the weekend, Reid’s chief-of-staff responded to criticism of Reid on Sunday by calling Republicans “a bunch of cowards.”
“They’re a bunch of henchmen for Romney,” chief of staff David Krone said, “and they’re all reading off the same talking points. They couldn’t hold a candle to Harry Reid.”
The backing of Reid comes as a growing chorus of conservatives accuse the Democrat of being untruthful. Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu said Reid “probably” developed the accusation as he was “talking to the mirror while he was shaving.”
Washington Post columnist George Will called the accusations “McCarthyism from the desert.”
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a “dirty liar.”
Other influential conservative voices condemning Reid include the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner.
In an op-ed titled, “Stay Classy, Harry,” the Wall Street Journal writes that Reid continues “to embarrass himself and his party.”
The Washington Examiner said Reid is slandering Romney. “There is a word for people who publicize defamatory insinuations or allegations just to get them into circulation, without knowing or caring whether they are true. That word, ‘slanderer,’ is appropriate here.”