In a potential violation of federal law and Senate ethics rules, Republican Sen. Susan Collins used official resources to staff and produce a campaign advertisement promoted across Facebook in Sept. 2019.
On Sept. 4, 2019 Collins’ office held an official event announcing U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s decision to award Maine with federal money to fund ongoing infrastructure projects throughout the state. And according to a review by American Ledger, Collins turned around and digitally promoted footage from the event with Chao in a Facebook advertisement that reached over 50,000 Mainers to tout her upcoming Senate campaign. The Senate Select Committee on Ethics wrote “31 U.S.C § 1301, provides that official funds are to be used only for the purposes for which they were appropriated. No official resources may be used to conduct campaign activities.”
The funding awarded by Chao is likely to raise suspicions from critics who will argue that this was granted as an extension of the promise Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — also Chao’s husband — had previously made to bankroll Collins’ reelection campaign after her contentious vote for Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
“Susan Collins will be well funded, I can assure you,” McConnell said on Fox News in October 2018.
Collins’ use of official resources falls in line with her long record of improperly utilizing her Senate position for political benefit. Just this past June, The Maine Beacon reported that Collins’ had potentially enlisted one of her official staffers in Maine to speak to various Republican Chapters across the state.
The aide was quoted boasting that Collins is “working very closely” with the Trump Administration.