September 28, 2022

WHERE’S THE MONEY? Rick Scott in GOP crosshairs over Senate campaign funding

WHERE'S THE MONEY? Rick Scott in GOP crosshairs over Senate campaign funding

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Medicare and Medicaid fraudster Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) is in hot water with Republicans for doing what he’s best known for – making money disappear. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) – the fundraising arm of Senate Republicans – has seen 95% of the $181 million raised by the end of July go “poof.”

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After becoming committee chair last year, Scott had lofty goals, and the longtime grifter had a plan on just how to reach them.

“It was early 2021, and Senator Rick Scott wanted to go big. The new chairman of the Senate Republican campaign arm had a mind to modernize the place. One of his first decisions was to overhaul how the group raised money online,” The New York Times reported.

“Mr. Scott installed a new digital team, spearheaded by Trump veterans, and greenlit an enormous wave of spending on digital ads, not to promote candidates but to discover more small contributors. Soon, the committee was smashing fund-raising records.”

Things seemed to be going well, and according to the NRSC website, by the middle of 2021, $51.2 million had been raised – with over $10 million coming in June 2021 alone.

Scott wasted no time taking credit, boasting:

“The NRSC is making historic investments in digital fundraising that are already paying dividends and will continue to throughout the 2022 cycle. Democrats are hell-bent on destroying this country with their agenda of open borders and amnesty, sky-high tax hikes, out-of-control spending, and crushing inflation. Americans are fed up and are counting on Senate Republicans to deliver a majority in 2022 to restore freedom and opportunity for our nation.”

Fast forward to 2022.

A highly aggressive text campaign would send misleading messages to Republican voters with questions like “Should Biden resign,” then urging that they “Reply YES to donate.” Once the recipient replied YES, their payment method on record was immediately charged. The problem? They had no idea where the money was going, nor had they given their payment information to the Senate Committee.

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“Privately, some Republicans complained the tactic was exploitative.”

The tactic eventually forced WinRed – a donation processor for Republican politicians – to block the committee. The Senate committee used donors’ phone numbers to pull credit card information on file with the payment company.

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Refund demands to the NRSC from disgruntled donors top $8 million today, versus $2 million just two years ago.

The shameless campaign used Trump in over half of the 1500 emails sent out to donors – though most were unaware that 90% of donations were kept by the NRSC Leaving little leftover for the actual responsibility of the committee which is, “recruiting and supporting candidates, providing marketing support and buying ads,” per The Times.

As the CEO of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, Scott oversaw one of the largest cases involving Medicare and Medicaid fraud in history, and as a defendant, not as a prosecutor. The company allegedly billed the federal medical programs for “tests that were not necessary or ordered by physicians.”

According to Politifact:

“The hospital chain would perform one type of medical test but bill the federal government for a more expensive test or procedure. Agents seized records from facilities across the country including in Florida.”

Scott resigned from the hospital conglomerate in 1997 – shortly after the FBI announced they were investigating the fraud. By the year 2000, the business had reached its first settlement with the federal government – with a second in 2002. The combined settlements totaled $1.7 billion.

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“The company pleaded guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies and agreed to pay $840 million in criminal fines and civil damages and penalties.”

In a separate civil case, the thieving ex-CEO pled the Fifth Amendment during his deposition.

Misspending by the NRSC — added to a failed digital campaign — doesn’t bode well for Republican Senate hopefuls with the midterms less than three months away,  with several candidates – like Ohio’s J.D. Vance and Pennsylvania’s Dr. Mehmet Oz – facing uphill battles.

Chris Hartline, spokesman for Sen. Scott, doesn’t see a problem with the spending saying, “We made the investment, we’re glad we did it, it will benefit the NRSC and the party as a whole for cycles to come.” Hartline dismisses the criticism as “disgruntled former staff and vendors.”

The GOP may not feel the same come November.

Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick

Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.

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