Susan Collins’ 2020 Re-Election Chances Take Significant Blow

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Maine’s Republican Senator Susan Collins, whose re-election race is currently rated as a toss-up by the Cook Political Report, now faces a new allegation of serious corruption. The American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) alleges that Collins used her position as Senator to advance policies that would financially benefit her now-husband, Thomas Daffron, and herself. The group has sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee requesting an investigation of the situation, although considering the current Republican leadership of the Senate as a whole and that committee in particular, it’s unclear if the investigation request will get anywhere.

The financial benefits that Collins and Daffron have reaped include large increases in value of the Senator’s husband’s investment portfolio following Collins’s support of the 2017 Republican-led tax policy overhaul. According to Salon, “[Collins’s] husband’s investments in eight companies as much as doubled following Collins’ vote in favor of the GOP’s 2017 tax bill — increasing in value by perhaps $340,000 to $600,000 as those companies took in billions of dollars in corporate tax benefits and stock buybacks.” (Financial disclosure forms for many government figures report many values in ranges, not specific numbers.)

The 2017 GOP legislation was called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and it was marketed as a supposed boon for lower income Americans — including by Collins herself — but in reality, the legislation included provisions like a steep cut to corporate tax rates. The financial benefits for corporations around the country paved the way for record rates of companies buying back their own stocks throughout 2018. No provisions had been included in the legislation that would have barred using the extra money for that purpose.

Besides the financial kickbacks for Collins’s husband’s investment portfolio following the tax legislation, Collins has also been a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees government agencies that dished out a total of some $10 million in government contracts to Daffron’s now former company, Jefferson Consulting. In 2011, Collins also voted to repeal a 3% withholding tax on government contractors (like Daffron), and, among other issues, she signed a letter asking then-President Barack Obama not to require government contractors to disclose political contributions worth $5,000 or more, although both efforts did have bipartisan support.

The ADLF’s Brad Woodhouse said:

‘This is a clear pattern of unethical and corrupt behavior by Sen. Susan Collins and the Senate Ethics Committee must begin an immediate investigation into her abuse of office. We are in the middle of a pandemic that has cost more than 180,000 Americans their lives, and instead of focusing on helping her constituents, Sen. Collins is using her office to enrich herself and her husband. This blatant corruption must be thoroughly investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee.’

As for Collins’s own financial standing, her “personal net worth rose between $2.4 million and $5.8 million” between 2011 and 2018, Salon reports. (Collins and Daffron got married in 2012.)

Now, Collins consistently loses in polls pitting her against Democratic Senate nominee Sara Gideon. The last time that she led in a poll cataloged by FiveThirtyEight was July. Now, Gideon leads by an average of 4.5 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.