Ethics Watchdog Calls for Criminal Investigation into Outside Groups Attempting to Bribe Senator
Updated: Oct 19
FACT Says Maine People’s Alliance, Mainers for Accountable Leadership PAC & Be a Hero Fund PAC Engaged in Illegal Scheme to Influence Senator’s Vote
(Washington, D.C.) – September 13, 2018 –The non-partisan ethics watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), has asked the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate three outside political groups, the Maine People’s Alliance, the Mainers for Accountable Leadership PAC and Be a Hero Fund PAC for illegally running a crowdfunding website meant to bribe Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) over her upcoming vote on the confirmation of United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The groups have tied a payment of over one million dollars directly to Senator Collins’ vote.
According to recent media reports, Senator Collins has become the subject of some very disturbing threats and illegal tactics meant to pressure her into voting against the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. In one of those actions, the three above mentioned outside groups created a crowdfunding website asking donors to contribute to a yet-to-be named opponent of Susan Collins in her next campaign if Senator Collins votes to confirm Kavanaugh.
The pledge to potential donors offers two scenarios: (1) “Senator Collins votes NO on Kavanaugh and you will not be charged, and no money will go to fund her future opponent.” (2) “Senator Collins votes YES on Kavanaugh and your pledge will go to her opponent's campaign, once that opponent has been identified.”
FACT notes that bribing a public official is illegal under 18 U.S.C. section 201(b)(1) even if the bribe is paid to another person, in this case a potential and unnamed opponent of Senator Collins. As the complaint notes, “the three groups have made the illegal promise to give over one million dollars to another person with the stated intent and purpose to influence a Senator’s vote.” Also, the law also does not require there be an “agreement” between the one offering the bribe and the intended recipient of it.
“This fundraising ploy is not ‘politics as usual,’ but an illegal attempt to influence an elected official’s specific vote and ability to fulfill her constitutional duties,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “We are asking the Department of Justice to investigate this matter immediately because this blatant act of public bribery only serves to fuel suspicion of and distrust in our politics and government.”
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/.