Two left-leaning organizations in Maine have threatened to donate $1.3 million to Sen. Susan Collins’s next opponent if she votes to confirm Trump’s pick for Supreme Court.
Mainers for Accountable Leadership and the Maine People’s Alliance are running an unusual crowdsource fundraising campaign in which “donors” agree to have their credit cards charges a certain amount if Collins votes in favor of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Those asking Collins to vote "no" see Kavanaugh as a threat to women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and Obamacare.
The campaign against Collins is hosted by the San Francisco-based website Crowdpac.com, which on Monday announced it had raised $893,600. In May, Crowdpac CEO Jesse Thomas announced the site would no longer accept fundraising campaigns on behalf of GOP candidates because those candidates tend to support President Trump.
Collins, who has not yet announced whether she intends to vote for Kavanaugh, said the threat would have no effect on her decision.
The fundraising campaign is “the equivalent of an attempt to bribe me to vote against Judge Kavanaugh,” said Collins. “If I vote against him, the money is refunded to the donors. If I vote for him, the money is given to my opponent for the 2020 race.”
Leading elections lawyer Cleta Mitchell has called on the FEC and the Department of Justice to investigate Crowdpac and its campaign against Collins.
“Federal law prohibits anyone from offering a member of Congress anything of value in exchange for a member’s vote,” explains Mitchell. "These people have conspired to do just that…in exchange for her vote on a specific matter before the Congress.”
The campaign could also represent a violation of the US criminal code on bribery by linking official actions to monetary reward.
Meanwhile, Crowdpac insists it has been thoroughly vetted by the FEC and that its business model has been approved. Crowdpac is “fundamentally different from a political action committee,” insists company spokesman TJ Adams-Falconer. “Crowdpac does not make contributions, process contributions, deposit contributions into a merchant or bank account in its name, or forward contributions to candidate committees…We always have been, and remain today, a for-profit corporation operating exclusively on a commercial basis.”
Crowdpac insists the funds it is raising quality as “nominee funds.” But as Mitchell has pointed out, nominee funds are typically collected before a primary election and disbursed based on the outcome - not on how a member of Congress votes.
"What Crowdpac has done in this instance is to allow its platform to be used for a purpose quite different from the purpose approved in the FEC opinion," says Mitchell. "There is no mention in the opinion of using their proposed vehicle as a means of giving or withholding financial support for members of Congress in exchange for their votes or other official action.”