New Complaint: Super PAC Ad Breaks FEC Law to Boost Senator Collins, Nearly $300k Illegal In-Kind Donation

1820 PAC illegally contributed nearly $300,000 to Collins’ reelection effort with ad that relies on b-roll her campaign posted online

The Maine Democratic Party has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against 1820 PAC for illegally providing nearly $300,000 worth of support for Senator Susan Collins’ reelection bid, actions that were facilitated by Collins’ very campaign.

Specifically, 1820 PAC -- the Collins-allied super PAC funded by seven wealthy Collins donors/allies -- illegally in-kinded $276,000 worth of supportive advertisements for Collins’ reelection by airing the video her campaign posted for such outside groups to use. By using too much of the b-roll Collins’ campaign posted, 1820 PAC violated strict FEC regulations meant to prohibit outside groups that aren’t subject to donation limits from propping up a candidate’s campaign. 

“Senator Susan Collins and her allies are pulling out all the stops to ensure her reelection, even if it means violating the law by having a super PAC -- funded exclusively by her wealthy out-of-state donors -- spend nearly $300,000 on ads Senator Collins specifically wants. Senator Collins facilitated the six-figure illegal activity of a super PAC to benefit her campaign, period,” said Maine Democratic Party Executive Director Lisa Roberts. “1820 PAC and Senator Collins have an immediate responsibility to apologize to Mainers for airing illegal ads and forfeit the nearly $300,000 Senator Collins’ campaign benefitted from.”

These tactics come as Collins' approval is at an "all-time low" with the "biggest decline of anyone in the Senate," and the Cook Political Report shifting her race from lean Republican to toss-up.

What’s more, this is another instance of Collins and her allies breaking the rules for political purposes.  In August, it was reported that Collins violated federal criminal law and Senate ethics rules for mixing taxpayer-funded resources and her personal political campaign, after having been caught for doing the same exact thing earlier in her career. In a clear sign that Collins was once again running afoul of the rules, Collins’ campaign refused to return comment to POLITICO on the violations. Collins has already been under scrutiny multiple times this cycle for using taxpayer-funded resources to boost her personal political campaign.