Senate GOP campaign arm hits Rick Scott primary opponent with finance complaint

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Senate Republicans’ official campaign arm in Washington is filing a complaint alleging that the Republican challenging GOP Sen. Rick Scott in 2024 used businesses he owns to make impermissible contributions to his campaign.

The complaint from the National Republican Senatorial Committee is hitting Keith Gross, a Panama City, Florida, businessman and attorney who has said he would spend millions of dollars from his personal wealth to try and defeat Scott, a first-term senator and former two-term Florida governor.

“Despite this well-known prohibition, Keith Gross for Florida, and two businesses have engaged in a flagrant scheme to pump corporate resources into the struggling primary campaign,” read the complaint, which is signed by NRSC Deputy General Counsel Blake Murphy.

Gross did not return a request seeking comment.

Scott is one of the only Republican senators facing a potentially competitive campaign for re-election in 2024, when most of the battleground Senate seats up feature Democrats defending red or purple turf. Republicans need a net gain of two seats to flip the Senate, or one seat plus the presidency, so the vice president could break a 50-50 tie.

The basis for the complaint stems from campaign finance reports in which Gross lists debts owed to Pure Blue and 1954 Capital Partners LLC, two companies he owns. Gross lists owing $13,500 to the first for business rentals and $12,600 to the second for aircraft rental.

“Federal law prohibits corporations, such as Pure Blue Inc. and likely 1954 Capital Partners LLC, from making contributions to Federal candidates,” the complaint said. “If a corporation makes its resources available to one candidate for free, it must do so for all candidates.”

“In sum, Gross’ campaign owes tens of thousands of dollars to corporation(s) owned and managed by Gross,” it said.

Pure Blue is a Montana-based company started in 2007 and lists Gross under “primary address,” according to that state’s corporate records. It has little online presence explaining what it is or does.

1954 Capital Partners is a Florida-based company Gross lists as an asset on a financial disclosure form filed ahead of his run for Senate. Those forms list him as an “officer.”

Gross is considered a major underdog to Scott, but he has opened his campaign on an aggressive note, attacking Scott directly and saying he can spend upward of $30 million in personal funds as part of the race. Gross has consistently poked fun at the policy plan Scott unveiled during the 2022 midterms, when he chaired the NRSC. It became a point of contention between Scott and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and led Scott to make an unsuccessful run to oust McConnell as caucus leader.

Gross is new to Florida politics, but has run for office in the past.

In September, NBC News reported that Gross was kicked off the ballot when running as a Democrat for a seat in Georgia’s state House. A judge in that case was “troubled” by Gross’ attempts to prove he lived in the state and the House district long enough to be eligible.

Senator Rick Scott Holds A Capitol Hill Press Conference To Discuss The Debt Limit (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file )

Senator Rick Scott Holds A Capitol Hill Press Conference To Discuss The Debt Limit (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images file )

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