Sen. Susan Collins’ campaign motto is “Our Senator.” But after her latest fundraising disclosure, it’s hard to say whose senator she is.
Roll Call and media outlets in Collins’ home state of Maine reported this week that less than 1 percent of her contributions in the first quarter of this year — totaling $9,200 — came from the Pine Tree State.
Significant chunks of the more than $1.5 million Collins raised this year came from far-right figures like the Mercer family that bankrolls Breitbart, an inventor who has funded white-supremacist online trolls, bankers and hedge-fund managers, and special-interest PACs representing the likes of Lockheed Martin Corp., Johnson & Johnson, Boeing Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Citigroup Inc.
Analysts believe Collins, a four-term Republican, is one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election next year, and it’s clear from her fundraising efforts that she agrees: She raked in more than $1.5 million in the first quarter of this year, three times more than she did in the first quarter of 2013, the last time she was ramping up for an election.
According to Collins’ filing with the Federal Election Commission, less than 1 percent of her haul came from individuals in Maine, more than 74 percent came from individuals outside of Maine, 14 percent came from special-interest PACs, and 10 percent came from political PACs sponsored by fellow Republican Senators like Sens. Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and John Barrasso.
Combined, the financial sector — between PACs and individuals working as hedge-fund managers and bank presidents — contributed more than $203,000 to Collins so far this year. That’s more than 22 times the itemized contributions she received from Mainers.
Collins received $10,800 total from Rober Mercer and his wife, Diana, who have given tens of millions of dollars to Republicans on top of heavily investing in Breitbart, the right-wing news site that became a haven for the alt-right and white nationalists under Steven Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former strategist.
Last month, she took $2,800 from Palmer Luckey, an inventor whose sale of virtual-realty technlogy to Facebook afforded him the means to found and bankroll a group producing white-supremacist, pro-Trump memes that took root on sites like Reddit and 4chan, The Daily Beast reported in 2016.
In January, Collins received $5,400 from billionaire John Childs, whose arrest on a charge of soliciting prostitution in Florida in February prodded two GOP senators to donate his money to charity, The Washington Post reported last month.
Last year, Collins called on her Republican colleagues to return contributions from Steve Wynn, the billionaire casino owner and then-Republican National Committee finance chairman, after he was accused of sexual misconduct and forcing a manicurist at his Las Vegas hotel to have sex with him.
“If they’ve accepted contributions recently from him that have not been spent, absolutely, I don’t even think it’s a close call to return the money,” Collins said on CNN, adding she had never received money from him.