Harry Reid goes on Koch-fueled rampage

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said his Republican colleagues in the Senate are “addicted to Koch,” continuing his diatribe against the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and attacking Republicans for defending them.

Last week, Reid called the Koch brothers “un-American,” and alleged that most of the ads being run by Americans for Prosperity, which is funded by the Kochs, were untrue.

On Tuesday, he attacked Republican senators for defending the billionaires.

“Republican senators have come to the floor to defend the Koch brothers’ attempt to buy our democracy,” Reid said. “Once again, Republicans are all in to protect their billionaire friends. … They have again and again defended the Koch brothers’ radical agenda — and it is radical, at least from the middle-class perspective. … And the Koch brothers are returning the favor with huge donations to Republican Senate candidates, either directly or indirectly.”

“Senate Republicans, madam president, are addicted to Koch,” Reid said, saying they “hardly need” the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the committee charged with electing Republicans to the Senate.

Reid accused the Kochs of “spending to rig the system” to benefit the wealthy, and for perpetrating a system in which “whoever has the most money gets the most free speech.”

Reid has been on this kick for the past week, attacking the Koch brothers on the Senate floor. His diatribes, he noted, “have caused some controversy. Anyone that’s turned on Fox News lately knows that I have gotten under their skin.”

In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked Reid for leaving out Democratic billionaires like Tom Steyer, a hedge fund manager who has pledged a lot of money to further environmental causes.

“These American citizens have a constitutional right to participate in the political process,” McConnell said of the Kochs. “And 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.”

In a statement,* Philip Ellender, President and COO of Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, said: “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.”

“At Koch, these are the things in which we believe: a government of appropriate size and scope such that it allows Americans the freedom and liberty to pursue happiness and well-being–for themselves and their families. We also believe in a government that operates on a balanced budget and does not burden American taxpayers with things like unfunded liabilities and mandates; a government that respects the integrity of our country’s Constitutional principles; and regulatory bodies that don’t impose needless burdens on entrepreneurs and job creators, both large and small,” Ellender said.

“This topic is worthy of vigorous dialogue and civil debate between people who exercise mutual respect for others with opposing viewpoints. 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,” he said.

*This post has been updated with Ellender’s response.

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