Monday, March 31, 2014

Collins and the McMahons

According to the filings at, one couple gave Sen. Susan Collins more than any other--the legal maximum of $10,400--during the most recent filing period. And there's a good chance you've heard of them: Linda and Vince McMahon, the duo behind World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

Let me say at the top: I'm not a huge fan of judging politicians by who supports them. It was unfair and offensive when, in 2008, Collins smeared Rep. Tom Allen as an ally of flag burners and other nefarious miscreants (including rich Jews) simply because had encouraged supporters to donate to his campaign.

That the group endorsed Allen didn't mean he endorsed everything it had ever done. And it didn't mean that he ought to be held responsible for the political views of every one of his small dollar donors (let alone the Collins camp's ghoulish and hysterical caricature of those donors and their views.)

That distinction--between a candidate endorsing his donors and being endorsed by them--seems pretty elemental and easy to grasp. Unless, of course, you're committed to playing a political "gotcha" game.

That said, there are obviously limits to what a pol can fairly disassociate herself from: Some actions are so egregious--some actors on the world stage so odious--that we expect candidates to explicitly reject them.

Contributors who are under investigation for political bribery is one category that comes to mind. Notorious bigots is another--which is why I've been critical of Collins's decision to take $5000 from the PAC of strident homophobe Sen. Tom Coburn R-OK: When you say things like "The gay community has infiltrated the very centers of power in every area across this country...That agenda is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today" you put yourself outside the bounds of civilized discourse in a way that demands to be called out.

But Collins's relationship with the McMahons raises different questions: Specifically, in this case the usual dichotomy between endorsing and endorsed by doesn't apply. Why?

Because in this case the endorsing does actually go both ways:

Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski...were the featured speakers at a "Women for Linda" rally McMahon held Saturday afternoon at a Norwalk hotel...

Both Collins and Murkowski said McMahon would bring a woman's common sense touch to the dysfunction of Washington...

Collins said she and the 16 other women Senators gather for dinner every six weeks or so. One day, a male colleague asked what those dinners were all about. Collins said she smiled sweetly and responded that the women were planning a coup. "And I can't think of a better person to help us execute that coup than Linda McMahon," she said as the crowd cheered. (Emphasis added.)

At issue for Maine voters in the mutual support between Collins and the McMahons is (among other things) the WWE's history of virulent homophobia and misogyny: While Collins fancies herself a champion of civilty, McMahon has made her fortune trafficking in ugly sterotypes and sexually-tinged violence--up to an including a mock gay wedding played for laughs and storylines about (NSFW) sexually predatory lesbians.

To put it simply, something's got to give.

Either Collins is truly concerned about the coarsening of the culture or she's comfortable aligning herself with folks who have a history of feeding on--and fueling--bigotry.

Either she cares deeply about changing the tone of our politics or she can further entrench her relationship with the McMahons.

But it's time to abandon the pretense that she can do both simultaneously.

(WWE photo by Simon Q.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quote of the Day

Democratic Senate candidate Shenna Bellows on Sen. Susan Collins's support for the Blunt Amendment:

You can't be pro-choice and vote to limit access to birth control.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Quote of the Day

Peg Dilley of Casco on her fear of tar sands oil being pumped through her neighborhood:

I have asked Susan Collins and I'm asking Angus King and I'm asking any of the other legislators to come and we will find you a horse and I would like to put you on a horse right here, bring you down the pipeline and let you see the smush and the trickle brooks because that's all this area is, is natural springs and trickle brooks that run.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

NRCM Pressing Collins on Tar Sands Oil

On Thursday afternoon, the Canadian National Energy Board ruled in favor of a project that will allow tar sands oil to flow east from Alberta Provence to Montreal, Quebec.

Environmental groups in Maine believe the decision paves the way for energy companies to seek to have tar sands oil flow from Canada to Casco Bay via the Portland Montreal Pipeline.

"Up until this point, the line that comes from Alberta down towards the New England border has not been able to carry tar sands," explained Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. "So it is literally now at our doorstep."


"We really need to take this latest move seriously," said Pohlmann.

She is urging Mainers to contact Senator Susan Collins, the only member of Maine's congressional delegation that has not called upon the State Department to do a full environmental review were the pipeline company [to] seek permits to move tar sands through Maine. (Emphasis added.)

The pressure from NRCM comes at a sensitive time for Collins, a Keystone pipeline supporter who was endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters in 2008 despite having a lower rating on the organization's own scorecard than her Democratic opponent.

With Sierra Club recently declining to back the 18-year incumbent, it remains an open question whether and to what extent left-leaning interest groups will again be willing--as they were during the 2008 campaign cycle--to greenwash the senior senator's record in exchange for a (momentary) bolstering of their bipartisan credentials.

(Photo by FeatheredTar.)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Copyright Violations At Collins Website

With the 2014 race picking up steam, Sen. Susan Collins's campaign recently unveiled a spiffy new version of their campaign website. Among the new features is a "Latest News" tab that, soon after launch, included unabridged reprints of articles from the Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News.

Asked whether Portland Press Herald had consented to have its work reprinted by the campaign, the writer of one of the pieces posted in full, Eric Russell, confirmed via e-mail that his article had been republished without permission. Which is a big no-no. Specifically, it's a violation of federal copyright law.

Earlier today Russell suggested that an editor would be reaching out to the Collins camp and--lo and behold--the page was changed within minutes.

According to FEC records, the campaign has paid $29,917 in "web consulting" and related fees to longtime Republican operative and As Maine Goes proprietor Lance Dutson since January 2013.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Revolving Door Watch

PPH's On The Move column:

Chris Philbrook, a senior account executive, was promoted to director of public affairs at Kemp Goldberg Partners.

Philbrook was previously a senior staff member with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and a special assistant to Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Henry Paulson.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Quote of the Day

BDN's Gordon Weil:

If senators like Collins try to survive the Tea Party threat by letting it set the agenda, traditional Republicans could turn out to be little more than foot soldiers in a right-wing army.