Collins closes out campaign badly, with a blown debate and shadows over her campaign funding

Collins closes out campaign badly, with a blown debate and shadows over her campaign funding
Photo via Gage Skidmore.
Susan Collins 'grateful' for endorsement from anti-choice group pushing harmful conversion therapy

Sen. Susan Collins, the embattled Maine Republican, is not closing out the final week of her campaign with glory. Pretty much the opposite, in fact. In the final debate with Democrat Sara Gideon Wednesday night, Collins totally blew off the existence of systemic racism in Maine. Granted, Maine is pretty darned white, but it's not that white. There's a sizable population of refugees and immigrants in the state. So when Susan Collins, their senator, says "I do not believe systemic racism is a problem in the state of Maine," and "it's clear that in some parts of our country there is systemic racism or problems in police departments" but "we are very fortunate in the state of Maine because we have terrific members of law enforcement," she might seem just a little bit out of touch to those residents.

Especially compared to Gideon. "It doesn't matter how white our state is—it still exists. When we look at the incidences, for example, of the number of people of color who here in the state of Maine had a positive COVID infection rate and how outsized that was compared to the rest of the population. We see it in terms of access to education for people of color, access to health care, rates of poverty, rates of incarceration, and we do have to do something about it," Gideon said. That's the answer of someone living in the 21st century and not in a Republican bubble. And not someone who is being bankrolled by private equity firms. That's the other bad bit of press Collins has gained for herself this week.

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ProPublica reports that she is the "No. 1 Senate recipient of private equity donations." Which isn't a good look. It's even worse when her work on the 2017 GOP Tax Scam is reviewed. Collins, trying to justify what was going to be her total capitulation in voting for the bill, offered an amendment the day before the vote to expand a child care tax credit, paid for by ending a tax break for the private equity industry. Within hours, though, she backed down and withdrew the amendment. "Her retreat was a significant victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell," ProPublica reports. "Collins put aside her opposition and voted for the bill, which passed 51-49." Her decision to yank the amendment, and how the private equity industry prevailed, has remained a mystery.

But now we have a clue: the more than half a million dollars she's received from the private equity industry in this cycle for her reelection. There's also the $2 million Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman and chief executive of the private equity giant Blackstone, has given to one of the Collins Super PACs as well as the $20 million he's giving to another Super PAC supporting Collins and other Republican Senate candidates. Tax experts told ProPublica that Collins amendment probably would have cost Schwarzman tens of millions in taxes. So lucky him that Collins changed her mind about that. Another donor to the Collins 1820 PAC is Ken Griffin, who's given $1.5 million. Griffin heads up the hedge fund giant Citadel. So his potential tax liability would have been significantly rosier without Collins' amendment to close the carried interest loophole.

Remember way back in 2017 when Collins was insisting that she was holding out her vote on the tax scam and getting ironclad promises from Mitch McConnell that he'd allow votes on protecting people's health care? And then he broke that promise when he got her vote? And how she insisted that it was still going to happen, that the Senate would have those healthcare votes in 2018? Somehow in retrospect, the millions she got from these hedge fund guys seem to be the promise that really secured her vote.

It's awfully rich for the person who said this in 2018 about a grassroots funding effort against her: "I consider this quid pro quo fundraising to be the equivalent of an attempt to bribe me to vote against Judge Kavanaugh." Please, Senator Collins, tell us all about bribes and quid pro quo. We'd really like to hear it.

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