Susan Collins has a looooong history of questionable campaign contributions from her paid-for-by-your-taxes Senate staff, going back to the 1990s. More on that later, but first, check out this quote from the latest instance of Senate staff acting like campaign staff.
"I can assure you that there's two people that want you to vote for Senator Collins," Collins' Bangor Senate office director, Carol Woodcock told the crowd at a Washington County Republican campaign rally. "One is the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and two is our president, President Trump." So much for that vaunted independence, eh.
Collins' time is up. Please give $1 to help Democrats in each of these crucial Senate races, but especially the one in Maine!
Collins really wants to keep the door to another Republican challenging her in the state's primary firmly shut ahead of the March 16 filing deadline. Collins sure wants this group of Republicans at what was billed as a "Campaign Event" including state, local, and federal candidates, to know she's with Trump and Moscow Mitch all the way! So she sends her Senate staffer, Woodcock, to tell them so. "Does anybody have any questions, either on the federal level or campaign?" Woodcock later asks. As if by saying the words "federal level" she can claim she's not doing campaign work at a campaign event which is not something that Senate staffers are allowed to do under their official titles. That's in the Senate Ethics manual.
This isn't the first time, by a long shot, that Collins has sent Woodcock out to campaign for her at Republican events. It happened last June with the Hancock County Republicans. Woodcock even told them "I work in the senator's Bangor federal office. So, I'm not a campaign worker," making crystal clear that what she's going to say next she probably shouldn't be saying in a campaign event. "The senator's campaign is just up and running a little bit, really on the fundraising side, but we don't have any real campaign staff. But I'm going to give you a little bit of report on the campaign."
That update included the news that Collins' campaign is "working very closely" with the Trump administration. That was after a complaint was lodged by the American Democracy Legal Fund with the Senate Ethic Committee in December 2018, when Collins' Senate press secretary, Annie Clark, wrote an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News criticizing Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, who was soon to enter the Democratic race against Collins.
Turns out, this is a long-standing habit from Collins, using her Senate staff for her campaigns. A report from American Ledger completed last August details instances dating back to 1998 of her campaign violating federal criminal code that makes it illegal for members of Congress to accept campaign contributions—including an "advance of money" from congressional staff, meaning congressional staff could not use their own money to pay for anything campaign related. After the 1998 violation, her chief of staff Steve Abbott swore it would never happen again. And in 2015, guess who was reimbursed $1,327 from campaign funds for "catering" costs. You got it, Steve Abbott.
From 2013-2019 there were five separate instances adding up to more than $2,600, in which Collins' congressional staff was reimbursed for spending money on—contributing to, for purposes of campaign law—her campaign. After her chief of staff swore it would never happen again. That's how you know she's always been a Republican.