Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) denounced a left-wing attempt to “bribe” her into voting against President Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, declaring that a liberal fundraising scheme will not influence her vote “at all.” A Republican election lawyer suggested to Newsmax that the scheme may violate federal law.
“Either Sen. Collins VOTES NO on Kavanaugh OR we fund her future opponent,” a crowdfunding page declares. Maine People’s Alliance and Mainers for Accountable Leadership launched the effort, raising money for Collins’ future opponent if she votes to confirm Kavanaugh. As of Wednesday, the effort has raised $1.1 million of a $1.3 million goal.
Here’s the catch: money pledged to the effort will be refunded if Collins votes against Kanavaugh. In other words, Collins’ campaign will effectively gain $1.1 million if the senator votes against Trump’s nominee.
“I consider this quid pro quo fundraising to be the equivalent of an attempt to bribe me to vote against Judge Kavanaugh,” Collins told Newsmax’s David Patten. “If I vote against him, the money is refunded to donors. If I vote for him, the money is given to my opponent for the 2020 race.”
Collins insisted that “this effort will not influence my vote at all. I think it demonstrates the new lows to which the judge’s opponents have stooped.”
Collins is one of the two Republican senators representing blue states, and most likely to “flip” against Kavanaugh. The liberal groups chose the right candidate to target, but it seems they went far astray in this attempted bribe.
Collins insisted that this effort will not influence her vote. But it may influence the liberal groups that came up with the hare-brained scheme.
Cleta Mitchell, a prominent Republican elections attorney, told Newsmax this effective bribe may violate election laws.
“They’re trying to tie her official action to their threat that they’re going to give $1 million to somebody to run against her, if she doesn’t vote the way [they want her] to,” Mitchell said. “It is certainly raising the specter of whether or not this violates the United States criminal code to prohibitions against attempted bribery, by linking official actions to monetary reward.”
The lawyer referenced Title 18, Section 201 of the U.S. criminal code, which expressly forbids bribery when a party “directly or indirectly gives, offers, or promises anything of value to any public official … for or because of any official act performed or to be performed by such public official.”
Mitchell called for the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate this alleged bribery.
“The federal law prohibits anyone from offering a member of Congress anything of value in exchange for a Member’s vote,” Mitchell told Newsmax. “These people have conspired to do just that — they are dangling a fairly substantial ‘thing of value’ — namely, $1 million dollars to be given or not given to Sen. Collins’ opponent, in exchange for her vote on a specific matter before the Congress.”
Crowdpac, the political crowdfunding organization where the money has been raised, defended its actions to Newsmax through a spokesperson. “Crowdpac has been thoroughly vetted by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and our operations and business model have received unanimous approval from the regulator,” the spokesman said.