Responding to Misleading Ads from the Collins Campaign

As the Senate campaign enters its final month, Maine is being blanketed by political ads from both Susan Collins and Sara Gideon. Sen. Collins has adopted several arguments originally created by out-of-state PACs in an effort to win re-election after 24 years in office. These ads often distort the truth.

This week we are doing something a little different with our News Digest. We are providing links to several ads being run against Sara Gideon and providing guidance on how volunteers can respond when asked about the issues raised. When you hear these arguments echoed by voters, here are ways you can respond on behalf of Sara Gideon.

Sara Gideon wants to raise gas and fuel prices. (Gideon and gas taxes)

Gideon supported a bill to increase gas taxes as a way to help fight climate change, shift to more renewable energy sources, and improve fuel efficiency. The ad ignores the purpose of the proposal and also fails to note that the increased taxes would be returned to Mainers through lower utility bills.

Sara Gideon supports the campaign to “Defund the Police” and voted to cut more than $200,000 from the state budget for law enforcement. (GOP ad on police funding)

Not true. At the September 11 debate with Collins, Gideon said, “I do not support defunding the police. I do think we need to make sure that we make changes to ensure that people of color do not continue to be brutalized or killed.” The biennial budget that supposedly cut more than $200,000 actually allocated $67 million for the State Police, a $4.45 million increase over the previous biennial budget. 

Sara Gideon didn’t pay $57,000 in property taxes. (Collins attack on Gideon over property taxes)

“Here are the actual facts,” Gideon said in response to the ad. “My husband years and years ago was involved in a business venture and there were these liens that existed for a short period of time. It was in 2008 when the housing market crashed and in fact that business that he was involved with – not a family business – did pay off all of the taxes and settled everything with the bank in a timely manner. And Senator Collins is very aware that those are the facts.”

Susan Collins sponsored the Paycheck Protection Program for small business while Sara Gideon didn’t call the legislature into session during the Covid-19 crisis. (The PPP and Maine legislature)

The PPP is a useful government program that helped many small businesses. But because of the way Susan Collins and Senate Republicans wrote several provisions, it actually gave much more money to large companies than to the Mom-and-Pop enterprises that it was supposed to help the most. 

Meanwhile, the Maine legislature approved an emergency budget in March to deal with the pandemic before leaders of both parties agreed to adjourn to prevent the spread of the disease and protect lawmakers and employees from getting sick.  Republicans have continued to refuse to return to session, hamstringing Gideon’s efforts to bring the legislature back.  (Republican lawmakers again reject call for special session.)

Collins says a TV ad from a PAC supporting Sara Gideon falsely accused her of undermining Medicare. Collins cited her “support” from AARP as proof she will protect seniors. (Collins on Medicare)

AARP does not endorse political candidates and does not back either Susan Collins or Sara Gideon. The ad Collins is complaining about was more than a year old and was not sponsored by Gideon’s campaign. It said that Collins’ support for the big Republican tax cut for corporations and the wealthy would increase the size of the deficit — as it has — potentially putting Social Security and Medicare in jeopardy. In fact, President Trump and Republicans in the Senate have warned that they will try to cut support for both programs if they retain power next year. 

Sara Gideon was accused of covering up allegations of sexual abuse against state representative Dillon Bates. (TV news report on accusations)

Here’s how Sara responded: “I knew there would be false attacks when I ran for Senate, but the ads on air for Susan Collins right now go too far. The truth is, I was the first person to call on the State Representative to resign when evidence of misconduct was revealed. And as the mother of two sons and one daughter, I value our children’s safety more than anything else. To suggest otherwise is not only false, it’s way over the line.”

Information about this investigation was not made public until June 2018, when the DHHS found insufficient evidence of wrong-doing.  In an article published in August 2018, an anonymous accuser outlined the inappropriate sexual relationship Bates had with her and other students, and when this information came out, Gideon immediately asked Bates to resign.

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