Activists trying to block Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are threatening to make a hefty donation to Sen. Susan Collins' opponents if she votes for him—but the plan could backfire. So far, a group of liberal activists including the Maine People's Alliance and dying ALS patient Ady Barkan have crowdfunded more than $1.1 million for the "Be a Hero" campaign on CrowdPac, and they say it will go to the Republican senator's 2020 opponent if she votes yes on Kavanaugh. If she votes no, people can keep their pledges. Ethics expert Adav Noti at the Campaign Legal Center, however, tells the Washington Post that the campaign appears to be an attempt to do an end-run around federal bribery laws.
They "have structured the campaign in a way that the action they will do if she does what she wants is that they will refund the money but that seems to be a fictional distinction," Noti says. Collins, who has expressed concerns about abortion rights, is seen as a key swing vote on Kavanaugh, but a spokeswoman says anybody who "thinks these tactics would work" on the senator "obviously doesn't know her." "Bribery will not work on Senator Collins. Extortion will not work on Senator Collins," Annie Clark says. "Senator Collins will make up her mind based on the merits of the nomination." NBC reports that Collins' office has also been receiving abusive calls and letters from Kavanaugh opponents. (Read more Susan Collins stories.)