Sen. Tim Scott played racist and derogatory voicemails he and his staff are receiving to Senate GOP colleagues during a closed-door lunch Tuesday, according to several GOP sources.
Scott, who is leading the GOP efforts on police reform, played two of many hateful voicemails left for him to his Republican colleagues. One of the voicemails called Scott “Uncle Tim” and described him as the “lowest piece of sh–t this country ever produced.” Another was a profane voicemail left for a Scott staff assistant, after she asked the caller to stop cursing at her and hung up.
Following the lunch, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted that he was “shocked” to learn about the vile messages Scott received and said everyone has a responsibility to be kind when they disagree.
The South Carolina Republican’s decision to play the voicemails comes one day before the Senate is set to take a key procedural vote on his legislation. Scott, the only African American Republican senator, has opened up in recent years about his experience with racism, including instances of being racially profiled by police. He’s also had to push back vehemently on suggestions of being a “token” for the GOP and has been called racial slurs on Twitter.
Following the Senate lunch, Scott urged his colleagues to vote to proceed Wednesday on his bill, calling it an open process and the beginning of debate. Democrats are expected to vote the motion down, saying that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is not negotiating in a bipartisan way. They argue that their police reform bill goes much further and is widely supported by civil rights groups.
“All of us do not have to tackle the issues like I did when I was 16 and 17 and 18 and 25 and 26 and 30,” Scott said. “We have the ability to say to that young man and to that young lady, ‘We don’t just see you, we didn’t just hear you. We acted on it.’”
Scott added that the bill is not just about his personal experience but about potential common ground between the GOP and Democratic proposals.
“Why am I so passionate about this issue beyond my 18 stops as a person of color?” Scott asked. “In my legislation and the Republican Senate legislation and the House legislation there is so much common ground and to lose this moment for the kids and the young adults watching this process would be terrible.”