Rick Scott's Fraud Settlement Resurfaces as Senate GOP Runs Low on Cash

Critics of Senator Rick Scott, a Florida Republican who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), resurfaced a past Medicare fraud settlement from his tenure as CEO of a hospital corporation, as his committee reportedly is running short on cash and pulling ads in support of GOP Senate candidates with less than three months until the midterm election.

The NRSC is the primary organization working to raise funds and support Republican candidates in the party's bid to take back the majority in the upper chamber of Congress. Scott has led the committee since January 2021, but The Washington Post reported on Friday that campaign advisers are asking "where all the money went and to demand an audit of the committee's finances" as the NRSC pulls ads and runs low on funds.

Many on Twitter pointed to Scott's past Medicare fraud scandal during his time as CEO of Columbia/HCA. When Scott was deposed in 2000 amid the investigation, he pleaded the Fifth Amendment 75 times.

Columbia/HCA later reached a settlement with the Justice Department of $840 million in 2000, and another settlement of $881 million in 2002, with the combined fines totaling $1.7 billion. At the time, this was the record health care fraud settlement, although it has since been surpassed, according to PolitiFact.

Senator Rick Scott
Above, GOP Senator Rick Scott of Florida walks to the Senate Republican Luncheon in the U.S. Capitol Building on August 2 in Washington, D.C. Scott faces criticism as the NRSC, which he chairs, reportedly runs low on funds ahead of the 2022 midterm election. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

"Rick Scott oversaw the biggest Medicare fraud in history, so the GOP in its genius put him in charge of its national campaign fund and now is wondering where all its money went. Incredible," writer Gary Legum posted to Twitter, commenting on the Post's reporting.

"There's clearly been some shift in momentum over the summer. But fundraising collapses like this don't happen in a week or a month. Did Rick Scott defraud the NRSC like he did Medicare? How on earth can they be out of money after a year of gop surge?" Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall tweeted.

"Rick Scott has gotten amazingly far in politics for a guy who perpetrated the largest Medicare fraud in history but I'm not sure why you'd put the guy who perpetrated the largest Medicare fraud in history in charge of a large sum of money," writer and editor Matthew Yglesias tweeted.

The Post reported that the NRSC has rapidly burned through its funds, despite its record fundraising. The committee raked in $173 million this election cycle, the report said, citing Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosures. Despite that massive haul, the NRSC had less than $29 million on hand at the end of June.

An NRSC spokesperson told the Post that the committee planned to spend more money in support of Republican Senate candidates at more crucial moments.

"Our goal was to keep our candidates afloat and get them to this point where they're still in the game in all our top states," committee spokesperson Chris Hartline said. "So when the big spending starts now we have a fighting chance."

Newsweek reached out to Scott's press representatives and Hartline for comment.

The senator has previously faced criticism from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, over suggesting that Republicans would raise taxes and cut funding to Social Security and Medicare. McConnell knocked the proposals in February, assessing that it "raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years." The top Senate Republican said that the GOP "will not have" such a plan "as part of our agenda" if the the party retakes the majority in the midterms.

Meanwhile, Democrats now appear well-positioned to maintain, and possibly expand, their majority in the Senate, despite President Joe Biden's abysmal approval rating and recent historic precedent. Earlier in the year, analysts largely believed Republicans would retake control of the Senate, as they only needed to pick up one seat.

Even McConnell admitted that prospects that his party will retake the majority are dimming.

"I think there's probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different—they're statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome," he said in Kentucky on Thursday, NBC News reported.