Senator Susan Collins has lashed out against a crowdfunding campaign aimed at pressuring her to vote against the confirmation of prospective Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — comparing the campaign to bribery — Fox News reports.
A coalition of progressive activists groups collaborated in a fundraising campaign on crowdpac titled “Either Sen. Collins VOTES NO on Kavanaugh OR we fund her future opponent” which has raised over $1 million.
The campaign promises to take the pledges and donate them to Collins’ election opponent if she votes to confirm Kavanaugh. That election would not happen in this cycle, with Collins’ last re-election occurring in 2014. Her current term will not expire until 2020.
In response to the campaign, Collins’ spokeswoman, Annie Clark, released a strongly worded statement.
“Anybody who thinks these tactics would work on Senator Collins obviously doesn’t know her, Senator Collins will make up her mind based on the merits of the nomination. Threats or other attempts to bully her will not play a factor in her decision making.”
One of the member organizations of the coalition responded to the bribery accusations with an equally strongly worded statement from Marie Follayttar, co-director of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, as published in The Washington Post.
“The idea of Susan Collins attacking an effort by 35,000 small-dollar donors as bribery is politics at its worst. Thousands of Mainers are trying desperately to tell her she needs to protect abortion access and critical health care coverage across the country by voting ‘no’ on Kavanaugh. If she doesn’t, we absolutely have the right to prepare to unseat her.”
Mainers have made it clear, @SenatorCollins. Keep your word to #ProtectOurCare or you will be replaced. $400,000 has already been pledged to your 2020 opponent if you vote yes on Kavanaugh.— People's Action (@PplsAction) September 7, 2018
There's still time do right by your constituents — say #KavaNAH now! pic.twitter.com/K6tP5Nj8ul
The accusation has led to plenty of disagreement about whether the crowdfunding campaign constitutes bribery, with the Washington Post consulting with several ethics experts surrounding the issue as it pertains to existing federal bribery statutes.
In agreement with Collins was Adav Noti, a senior director at the Campaign Legal Center, who argued that while the movement may avoid a literal application of the bribery statute, the idea that spending $1 million on an opponent seems to be too similar to giving $1 million for doing what the group wants. This could cause the crowdfunding campaign to face serious issues if someone wanted to pursue a legal challenge in Noti’s view.
Drawing the opposite conclusion was Jordan Libowitz — a spokesman at the Citizen for Ethics and Responsibilities — who described the campaign as “icky” but felt that it “doesn’t rise to the level of bribery because there’s no agreement.”
Collins has been seen as a crucial vote on the appointment of Kavanaugh as the Democrats don’t have the numbers to block the appointment. Collins’ reputation as a centrist has people looking to her as a potential Republican vote against him. History would suggest that Collins will vote in favor of his appointment — having already done so once. She had previously supported his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2006.