A so-called dark money group that spent millions promoting the Supreme Court candidacy of Brett Kavanaugh is now rewarding the Republican senator whose decision to support the judge, despite accusations of sexual misconduct, provided the pivotal vote that landed him on the bench.
"Judicial Crisis Network is launching a six-figure TV and digital ad campaign in Maine thanking Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for supporting Justice Kavanaugh," writes the Judicial Crisis Network on its website. It goes on to include a quote from a press release by the group's chief counsel and policy director, Carrie Severino.
"Thank you Susan Collins for thoughtfully reviewing Judge Kavanaugh’s judicial record and weighing the evidence, and for being a reasonable voice during this incredibly divisive time," Severino wrote. "You put Maine and our country first – thank you."
Ironically, Collins denounced a crowdfunding campaign that was started after she voted for Kavanaugh with the goal of defeating her when she seeks reelection in 2020, according to The Washington Post.
"I think that if our politics has come to the point where people are trying to buy votes and buy positions, then we are in a very sad place," Collins told "60 Minutes" on CBS. She later added, "They are asking me to perform an official act and if I do not do what they want, [money] is going to go to my opponent."
Yet Collins did not seem to view the situation as quid pro quo when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told Fox News's Martha MacCallum that he was " going to help raise $3 million to match" the funds being raised to oppose Collins by her opponents. He also depicted the harsh criticism of Collins as proof that her liberal critics had become radical.
"It just goes to show you how narrow the thinking of the opposition to Kavanaugh was, that they would say those extremist ... positions about a person that's been with them most of the time," Grassley argued.
A number of potential opponents for Collins have been raised for 2020, according to The Boston Globe. They include Susan Rice, the former national security adviser for President Barack Obama, although she could be harmed by the fact that she only has a house in Maine and is not considered by many there to be a full-time resident; Rep. Chellie Pingree, the only Democrat to represent that state in the House of Representatives, who lost to Collins by a landslide in the 2002 Senate election; Hannah Pingree, Chellie Pingree's daughter and a former Maine House of Representatives Speaker; Sara Gideon, the current Speaker of the House for Maine; Emily Cain, who was a congressional nominee for the Democratic Party twice and now works for EMILY'S List in Washington, DC; Adam Cote, an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate.