Monday, June 9, 2014

Did Reid's Use of Visitor Center Violate Ethics Rules?

Tea Party Patriots (TPP) has filed an ethics complaint against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his recent attacks on the Koch brothers. The complaint charges that, “[b]arely a week after Senator Reid began making speeches from the floor of the United States Senate in which he branded the Kochs “un-American,” “dishonest,” “immoral,” and liars . . ., the New York Times reported that Senate Democrats planned a “new” campaign to attack the Kochs.” Senator Reid has said that he would “do everything [he could] . . . to bring attention to those guys.”

In conjunction with filmmaker Robert Greenwald and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Reid hosted a screening of the film “Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition” in the Capitol Visitors Center on May 20. Even Reid’s most ardent defenders would find it difficult to support his use of the Capitol Visitor Center.

TPP’s complaint alleges that Reid violated federal law limiting the use of the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) when he used federal funds to screen a partisan film in the Center. Moreover, his use of the Capitol building to engage in fundraisers and plan attacks on those he perceives to be his political opponents also runs afoul of this rule.

The United States Code requires that videos shown in the CVC either enhance security for employees and guests or provide improved visitor orientation. TPP’s complaint states that, “nothing about the video, ‘enhances security’ for employees or visitors, nor does it ‘provide a structure that will afford improved visitor orientation.’” “Senator Reid has made the Kochs the linchpin of his campaign strategy. And his use of Senate resources to mount his attacks on the Kochs.”

The complaint concludes by arguing that, “Senator Reid is not entitled to funnel the money of American taxpayers into his own partisan political campaign strategies…” The complaints have been filed with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

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