As two senators called for an audit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the GOP’s post-election finger-pointing has intensified. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said during a three-hour-long and tense meeting of the Senate GOP Conference that there should be an independent review of how the party’s campaign arm spent its resources before falling short of its goal of winning the majority.
After this story was first published, Scott responded in a statement, where he described the taking over the committee two years ago and “immediately” learning that previous staffers had been paid “hundreds of thousands of dollars in unauthorized and improper bonuses.”
In a response, the executive director of the NRSC, Kevin McLaughlin, during the 2020 election cycle under then-Chairman Todd Young (R-Ind.), said that this is what children do when they are caught with their hand in the cookie jar. “They lash out. Obviously, this is crazy and we welcome a full audit,” McLaughlin added, reported Yahoo News.
Following the election, the back and forth is part of an all-out war enveloping the party. Blaming the other for the disappointing outcome – even before Scott launched a long-shot leadership challenge to McConnell – the political operations aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and NRSC Chair Rick Scott (Fla.) have clashed openly.
A policy plan released by Scott was panned by McConnell earlier in the election cycle, while on the other side, Scott went after McConnell in interviews and, implicitly, in an op-ed after the GOP leader said “candidate quality” was a barrier to success for the Senate GOP in the midterms.
In a number of key states, Republican Senate candidates ran behind the rest of the GOP ticket in November. But with one of the party’s main political vehicles now facing the prospect of a financial review, the recriminations took a new turn.
During the meeting, Scott was told by Blackburn that there needed to be an accounting of how money was spent and that it was important for senators to have a greater understanding of how and why key decisions involving financial resources were made, according to two people familiar with the discussion.
Blackburn said that in order to move forward, the party needed to determine what mistakes were made. Tillis supported the idea, as he argued that there should also be a review of the committee’s spending during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, which would allow for a comparison to be made.
But as during the 2008 election, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s finances were reviewed as it faced an accounting scandal, it would not be the first time a Republican Party committee underwent an audit.
An NRSC spokesperson, Chris Hartline, said that the committee’s regular filings with the Federal Election Commission were essentially a review of its spending. “We get audited every month. It’s called an FEC report. Every member of the caucus was kept in the loop on NRSC strategy and spending all cycle,” Hartline said, adding that the committee does annual audits of itself already.
Scott described his efforts in his recent statement to reform the NRSC after taking the reins for the 2022 election cycle. “When that’s your starting point, you work really hard to make sure there are transparent processes and we are more than happy to sit down with any member of the caucus to walk them through our spending,” said Scott.
According to its latest FEC report, the NRSC had raised $234.6 million for the cycle, through October 19, which includes $20 million in bank loans taken out in September and October. Since the start of 2021, the committee reported spending $235.3 million.
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