The Nevada Senate race took an interesting turn when Scott Ashjian announced his intention to run as an independent “Tea Party” candidate. The presence of a third party taking votes from the substantial anti-Harry Reid faction could save Reid’s re-election by enabling him to win with less than a majority.

In recent days, however, Ashjian has been stung by felony theft charges over writing bad checks to local businesses. The fact that the head of the Clark County bad check unit seeking the arrest of Ashjian is also a former head of the Clark County GOP has led to dueling charges of political motivations on all sides.

The Tea Party Express, which just held a big rally in Reid’s hometown of Searchlight over the weekend, released a Web ad accusing Ashjian of being a “fraud” trying to split the vote and deliver the Senate seat back to Reid. They’ve threatened to run the ad on television if Ashjian doesn’t drop out of the race.

Now, it’s extremely rich to see the Tea Party Express accuse someone else of being a fraud. The term could not be applied more perfectly to anyone but them. In reality, the Tea Party Express is composed of California-based Republican political consultants, cashing in on the name “Tea Party” for personal gain. In fact, over two-thirds of their PAC money, over $850,000, went directly to their political consulting firm.

The spectacle of a Republican operative-run PAC calling a Tea Party candidate an inauthentic fraud is something special.

David Dayen

David Dayen