Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) had the best fundraising quarter of her life in 2018, boosted in part by her decision to support Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.
Collins raised $1.8 million in the last quarter of the year, but just $19,000 of that money came in itemized donations ― contributions of $200 or more ― from residents of Maine.
In contrast, $32,000 came from public advocates of Kavanaugh’s nomination, according to a review by the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge 21st Century. For the most part, these people donated on the same day or after Collins’ Oct. 5 announcement that she would vote to confirm Kavanaugh, even though he faced sexual misconduct allegations.
Some of the donations she received:
$2,700 from Alicia Downs on Oct. 5. Downs signed an August 2018 letter of women who worked with Kavanaugh in President George W. Bush’s White House.
$2,700 from Peter Kalis on Oct. 5. Kalis signed a July 2018 letter from Yale students, alumni and faculty backing Kavanaugh.
$5,400 from Laura Cox Kaplan on Nov. 2. Cox Kaplan gave two donations of $2,700 to Collins on the same day. She and her husband, Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s public policy chief, are friends of Kavanaugh. Cox Kaplan sat behind Kavanaugh during his hearing and spoke at an #IStandWithBrett press conference.
$18,450 from 16 other women who signed the Bush White House letter. In addition to Downs, 16 other women who signed the August 2018 letter of women who worked with Kavanaugh in the White House gave to Collins between Oct. 19 and Dec. 31. Their donations ranged from $250 to $2,700.
$2,750 from four women who knew Kavanaugh in high school. Four women ― Julie DeVol, Meghan McCaleb, Ann Fowler and Suzanne Matan ― who signed a Sept. 14 letter from women who knew Kavanaugh in high school also donated to Collins’ campaign between Oct. 19 and Oct. 30, in amounts ranging from $250 to $1,000.
“For all the talk about Collins’s record-setting quarter, the reality is that she raised more money from Kavanaugh sympathizers than she did from the people she’s supposed to be representing,” said Amelia Penniman, a spokeswoman for Bridge. “That fact speaks volumes and underscores exactly why her days in the Senate are numbered.”
Collins’ office did not return a request for comment. But Amy Abbott, the deputy treasurer of her campaign committee, earlier said that the high amount of out-of-state contributions was deliberate.
“We made an effort to have a strong quarter because we wanted to send the message that Senator Collins will be prepared to run a vigorous campaign in 2020,” Abbott told the Bangor Daily News, which had reported on the fundraising totals. “We focused our fundraising efforts nationally, which we typically do until the election year, which is why there were relatively fewer donations from Maine.”
She added that there were “many contributions” from Maine voters that were under the $200 reporting threshold. Indeed, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars in unitemized contributions. In theory, they could all be from Mainers and therefore exceed the amount contributed by Kavanaugh supporters. Since the data aren’t public, though, there’s no way of knowing.
Democrats initially hoped that Collins could be one of the Republicans to join them in tanking Kavanaugh’s nomination. She has been a supporter of abortion rights, while President Donald Trump made clear his Supreme Court justice nominees would overturn those protections.
Activists raised millions of dollars, promising to use it to help Collins’ future 2020 opponent if she decided to vote for Kavanaugh. Collins’ office likened the effort to extortion, saying it was an attempt to “bully” the senator.