Two senators called for an audit by the National Republican Senatorial Committee Tuesday as GOP finger-pointing intensified after Tuesday’s election.
Three-hour-long, tense meeting of the Senate GOP Conference saw Sens. Marsha Blackburn (Republican-Tenn.), and Thom Tillis(Republican-N.C.) suggested that there be an independent review of the party’s campaign arm, which was unable to achieve its goal of winning the majority.
This discussion takes place amid a war within the party after last week’s election. The political operations that align with Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Fla.), and NRSC Chairman Rick Scott (Fla.), have clashed openly over the past week, blaming each other for the disappointing result — even before Scott launched a long-shot leadership challenge against McConnell.
On Tuesday, however, the recriminations took an unexpected turn. One of the party’s most prominent political vehicles is now in danger of being subject to a financial review. Two people who were present at the meeting said that Blackburn stated to Scott that there should be an accounting of money spent and that senators need to understand how and why important financial decisions were made. Blackburn stated that the party must identify and correct any mistakes in order to move forward.
Tillis supported the idea and argued that the spending of the committee during the 2018-2020 election cycles should be reviewed. This would allow for comparisons.
This audit would not be the first for a Republican Party committee. During 2008’s election, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s finances had to be reviewed after it was exposed to an accounting scandal.
Chris Hartline, spokesperson for NRSC, rebutted the notion that an audit was necessary, stating that the committee’s regular filings to the Federal Election Commission were essentially a review and evaluation of its spending.
“We get audited every month. Hartline explained that it’s called an FEC Report and that every member of the caucus was kept informed about NRSC strategy spending throughout the cycle.
Hartline stated that Scott gave a summary of the NRSC’s spending and fundraising to the caucus on Tuesday and that the committee was always happy to answer any questions from members.
According to the latest FEC report, the NRSC had raised $234.6 Million for the cycle through Oct. 19. This includes $20 million in bank loans that were taken out in September or October. Since 2021, the committee has spent $235.3 million.
According to two people briefed, Scott received some support from Senator Ted Cruz (R.Texas) during the meeting. He expressed his criticisms of McConnell’s political operation and McConnell’s leadership.
The meeting covered a wide range of topics. Republican senators vented about their inability to win the majority in a political climate that, many felt should have been beneficial for them.
As the day progressed, Scott and McConnell supporters began to fight openly over social media. Scott advisor Curt Anderson took to Twitter to complain about Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-linked superPAC, for not doing enough in the Georgia Senate runoff election.
Anderson wrote, “Have you given up?”
Steven Law, the president of the Senate Leadership Fund and a former McConnell chief-of-staff, retorted that the NRSC was only barely making a dent in the race.
Law wrote, “But don’t worry little buddy-–we’re used to covering you,”
Law made a Tuesday evening statement and joined the calls for audit. He also disputed the idea that federal filings of the committee would suffice.
Law stated that an FEC report is not comparable to an independent audit. This is used to assess financial controls and possible conflicts of interest within an organization.