The GOP has a real shot at winning the Senate in November. Most observers just assume that the House will flip to the Republicans in November, but the Senate is still a toss-up as some Democrats, like Raphael Warnock, are in trouble while at least one Republican seat (Pennsylvania) could turn blue.
Typically, this is when the National Republican Senatorial Committee would be churning out money and flooding the zone with ads and initiatives to rally voters and blast Democratic candidates. But, according to the New York Times, the NRSC is practically out of money, which is weird considering they were raking in a record amount of money.
This story is absolutely devastating and, if even half of it is true, Senate Republicans should be furious with one of their own: Rick Scott.
Now top Republicans are beginning to ask: Where did all the money go?
The answer, chiefly, is that Mr. Scott’s enormous gamble on finding new online donors has been a costly financial flop in 2022, according to a New York Times analysis of federal records and interviews with people briefed on the committee’s finances. Today, the N.R.S.C. is raising less than before Mr. Scott’s digital splurge.
Party leaders, including Senator Mitch McConnell, are fretting aloud that Republicans could squander their shot at retaking the Senate in 2022, with money one factor as some first-time candidates have struggled to gain traction. The N.R.S.C. was intended to be a party bulwark yet found itself recently canceling some TV ad reservations in key states.
The story of how the Senate G.O.P. committee went from breaking financial records to breaking television reservations, told through interviews with more than two dozen Republican officials, actually begins with the rising revenues Mr. Scott bragged about last year.
This isn’t going to be a copy and paste of the entire story, but that chunk of text there is the introduction to a winding path of financial malfeasance.
The NRSC, under Scott, took advantage of, essentially, predatory fundraising techniques and invested in a lot of digital overhaul without being able to manage the money they were raising, according to the Times story.
“One fund-raising scheme used by the Senate committee,” the Times notes, “which has not previously been disclosed, involved sending an estimated millions of text messages that asked provocative questions — ‘Should Biden resign?’ — followed by a request for cash: ‘Reply YES to donate.’ Those who replied ‘YES’ had their donation processed immediately, though the text did not reveal in advance where the money was going.”
WinRed, the primary money processing platform for the Republican Party, actually stepped in and told the NRSC to stop it.
The money spent advertising to small-dollar donors digitally, looking for ways to get them to contribute (like through those text messaging hits) numbers in the tens of millions, and it didn’t raise enough to cover those costs. What’s more, according to the story, demands for refunds have quadrupled.
The problem is that it appears the NRSC has been turned into a vehicle for Rick Scott to test drive his own fundraising plans for a presidential run in 2024. One Republican critic sourced in the story referred to the NRSC as the “National Rick Scott Committee,” and there is a lot of internal GOP griping from outside the organization.
This has also resulted, by the way, in the Senate Leadership Fund – Mitch McConnell’s super PAC – throwing more money at races in Ohio and Pennsylvania. They are spending a ton of money they might otherwise not need to if the NRSC wasn’t having money problems.
This, again, is why conservatives can (and do!) complain about McConnell, but they will never truly be rid of him.
Scott, clearly feeling the pressure, even clashed with McConnell, after the latter criticized Senate “candidate quality” in 2022. Scott fired back later that “trash-talking our Republican candidates” was “an amazing act of cowardice.”
And while McConnell has wanted to keep the midterm focus on Democrats and economic collapse under their leadership, Scott rolled out a policy agenda that promptly earned harsh blowback from the media and was used by Joe Biden as a means of deflecting criticism of his own policies.
Mr. Scott also rolled out his own “Rescue America” agenda despite Mr. McConnell’s desire to keep the policy focus on Democrats. Mr. Scott’s initial openness to taxing more Americans and letting Social Security expire has been used repeatedly by President Biden to bludgeon Republicans.
The Republican Party was never at risk of getting beaten by Democrats in this election cycle. Their biggest threat has always been themselves and this story makes it pretty clear that they have accepted that challenge.
If they do not take the Senate in November, heads will most assuredly (and figuratively) roll. Even if they win, however, there does need to be a financial autopsy, as suggested in the story, to figure out what in the actual hell happened here.