Harry Reid calls on Democrat facing ethics scrutiny to drop Senate bid

Story highlights

  • Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is calling on Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, to drop his bid to replace Sen. Marco Rubio in the Senate
  • The New York Times reported on emails and internal details of the operation of the fund under the headline: "Hedge Fund Role Intrudes on Lawmaker's Day Job"

(CNN)Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is calling on Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, who is under scrutiny for ethics violations related to a hedge fund he runs, to drop his bid to replace Sen. Marco Rubio in the Senate, charging the congressman has "no moral compass."

"Grayson claims to be a progressive, but it seems like he has no moral compass. These deeply troubling allegations should disqualify anyone from a seat in the U.S. Senate," Reid said in a statement a day after the New York Times reported on emails and internal details of the operation of the fund under the headline: "Hedge Fund Role Intrudes on Lawmaker's Day Job."
"Alan Grayson used his status as a congressman to unethically promote his Cayman Islands hedge funds, and he should drop out of the Senate race immediately. His actions aren't just disgraceful to the Democratic Party, they disgrace the halls of Congress," Reid's statement said.
It's unusual for a top party leader to weigh in on an internal primary fight. In this case, it's no secret that Democrats in Washington regard Grayson as an unpredictable and potentially problematic candidate due to his high profile divorce fight and reports about his business dealings. But the public rebuke is tough and a sign that top Democrats in Washington are worried Grayson could diminish chances for Democrats to pick up the seat.
It's notable that Reid has not called on Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, to step down even though the longtime lawmaker is facing a corruption trial in his home state.
Grayson's office issued a statement denying he had done anything wrong and said the New York Times story didn't prove he had.
"Congressman Grayson has never used his official position to advance any business interests or create a personal gain, and there is literally nothing in the New York Times report that even implies, much less demonstrates, otherwise," the statement said.
A campaign spokesman said he expected to issue a statement later Friday responding to Reid's call for Grayson to bow out.
Grayson is running in a primary against Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Florida, for the seat being vacated by Rubio, who is running for president. There are several Republican candidates as well.