WSJ: Reid Effort to Malign Koch Brothers, Republicans May Work

Image: WSJ: Reid Effort to Malign Koch Brothers, Republicans May Work (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Friday, 22 Aug 2014 09:59 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s strategy of bashing conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch appears to be helping the Democrats, according to Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly A. Strassel.

Reid is beating the left’s fundraising drum while simultaneously spooking Republican donors of a public besmirching for aligning with the Kochs, who the majority leader accuses of trying to "buy the country," Strassel wrote in her weekly Potomac Watch column in the Journal.

"Now that his strategy is becoming clear, the question is whether Republican donors will let him rob them of their best chance in years to roll back the Obama agenda," wrote Strassel, who is also a Washington-based Journal editorial writer.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has a lineup of candidates that could turn states such as Iowa, Colorado and New Hampshire from blue to red, she wrote. The organization is raking in plenty of cash, with predictions are that it will set a fundraising record by bringing in $70 million by the end of the year, she said.

"Yet Democrats are raising more," Strassel wrote.

Thanks to President Barack Obama’s Hollywood star power and the backing of Wall Street heavyweights, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had raised $25 million more than the NRSC as of June 30, according to the columnist.

Reid’s Senate Majority PAC has been the second-largest spender this election cycle,  trailing only the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Strassel wrote. Together the groups have shelled out some $32 million, compared with a $23 million total for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Super PAC American Crossroads.

Reid’s Senate Majority PAC’s strategy is to bash the right’s senate candidates, painting them as "everything from corrupt social-lunatics to women-haters," in order to damage Republicans and narrow the divide with their Democratic counterparts who "entered their races with exceedingly low approval ratings, thanks to their ties to the Obama agenda," the columnist wrote.

Federal law requires Super PACs, like Reid’s, to disclose their donors, something that’s not an issue for left-leaning billionaires who have contributed heavily to the group, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, climate activist Tom Steyer and hedge-fund titan James Simon, according to Strassel.

The Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups has had a chilling effect, the Journal columnist said. Donors are still contributing, but choosing to write checks to 501 (c)(4) groups that are not required to disclose donors.

"The Democratic Party for years has waged a campaign to cow and silence Republican donors — pushing the IRS to target GOP groups, advocating legislation to clamp down on free speech, and publicly harassing private citizens for engaging in elections," Strassel wrote.

"Mr. Reid is betting that this campaign will save a majority mired in failed Democratic policy. Republican donors, having dreamed so long of this opportune midterm moment, risk getting outmatched by Mr. Reid again."

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