Senate GOP re-election arm targets vulnerable 2022 Democrats over giving stimulus checks to prisoners

National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Rick Scott argues that if voting to give stimulus checks to prisoners ‘doesn’t tick you off, nothing will’

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The re-election arm of the Senate GOP’s taking aim four Democrats facing challenging re-elections this year in a new ad blitz that criticizes them and their colleagues for voting last year to give coronavirus pandemic stimulus checks to convicted felons.

In the digital spots, which were shared first with Fox News on Tuesday, National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chair Sen. Rick Scott points to convicted Boston Marathon terrorist bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as well as Larry Nassar, who was convicted of raping and molesting female gymnasts during his 18-year tenure as team doctor of the United States women's national gymnastics team.

"Guess what they have in common," the senator from Florida says to camera in the ad. "They are criminals who received stimulus checks from your tax dollars. Republicans tried to stop them, but every Senate Democrat voted to give stimulus checks to convicted criminals in jail."

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Scott then emphasizes that "the terrorist who maimed and killed people at the Boston Marathon, the pervert doctor who molested gymnasts, and thousands of other criminals got checks for $1,400, your money, courtesy of Senate Democrats."

"If that doesn’t tick you off, nothing will," the NRSC chair argues.

Scott’s referring to an amendment put forward by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana last March, during a very long Senate debate and votes on the sweeping COVID-19 relief passage that passed the Democratic controlled Senate along party lines. The passage of the Democrats’ bill through both houses of Congress was President Biden’s first major legislative victory after taking over in the White House two months earlier.

The GOP amendment, which also failed along party lines, would have prevented the $1,400 stimulus checks for going to those incarcerated in federal or state prisons.

Democrats at the time said they opposed the Republican amendment because they claimed it would hurt the families of prisoners, making it harder for them to pay their monthly bills. And Democrats pointed out that two previous rounds of stimulus checks – which were passed by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and signed into law by then President Donald Trump – allowed prisoners to receive the payments.

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Scott pledges in the ad that "we’re going throw these Democrats out of office this November. We only need one more seat and we need your help. Donate today."

GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida speaks with Fox News while attending the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual conference in Las Vegas, on Nov. 5, 2021

GOP Sen. Rick Scott of Florida speaks with Fox News while attending the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual conference in Las Vegas, on Nov. 5, 2021 (Fox News )

The Senate is currently split 50-50 between the two major parties, but the Democrats have the majority thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. That means Republicans need a net gain of just one seat to win back the majority they lost when they were narrowly swept in Georgia’s Jan. 5, 2021 twin Senate runoff elections.

The GOP is defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs in 2022. That includes five open seats, including Republican retirements in the key battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and North Carolina and the competitive state of Ohio, as well as in Missouri and Alabama.

But Republicans see strong opportunities to flip blue seats to red in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and potentially New Hampshire, where first-term Democratic Sens. Mark Kelly, Raphael Warnock, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Maggie Hassan are running for re-election in crucial general election battleground states.

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The NRSC tells Fox News that it will spend five figures to start running on Tuesday personalized versions of the digital ads against all four senators.

Scott, in a statement to Fox News, charged that the "Senate Democrats’ shameful vote will live in infamy and will be a major reason why Republicans will take back the Senate and end the madness."