Shotgun Donation From Susan Collins Fires Up Her Campaign

“Maine is a very pro-Second Amendment state,” said the senator’s spokesman.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) (C) talks to reporters as she is on his way to the Senate Chamber for a vote March 24, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Senate has passed a cloture vote 78-17 to advance a package that will aid sanctions regarding Russias annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.  
National Journal
Billy House
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Billy House
May 19, 2014, 5:09 p.m.

Who­ever won a raffle for a shot­gun from the Sports­man’s Al­li­ance of Maine has Sen. Susan Collins to thank.

The Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­or’s reelec­tion cam­paign donated that prize in late March, ac­cord­ing to de­tails of her latest cam­paign ex­pendit­ures filed with the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (see page 310). Her cam­paign paid $1,055 to Fox Fire­arms Sales and Train­ing Ser­vices of Vas­sal­boro for the shot­gun.

That raffle oc­curred as part of the an­nu­al State of Maine Sports­man’s Show, held March 28-30. Collins her­self at­ten­ded a por­tion of the show.

On Monday, there was no hint of shy­ness from Collins’s cam­paign spokes­man Lance Dut­son about the cam­paign hav­ing provided the raffle prize — at a time when fire de­part­ments, Little Leagues, churches, and oth­er groups have drawn con­tro­versy for sim­il­arly raff­ling off fire­arms.

“She did it to sup­port the Sports­man’s Al­li­ance,” Dut­son said. “Maine is a very pro-Second Amend­ment state. Hunt­ing her­it­age is a big part of the cul­ture here.” He said gun is­sues have not played much of a part in her reelec­tion cam­paign, at least so far.

Even the Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate for Collins’s seat, Shenna Bel­lows, de­clined in an in­ter­view Monday to dir­ectly cri­ti­cize Collins for her cam­paign’s dona­tion of the gun.

“I can’t com­ment on what the Collins cam­paign chooses to spend its cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions on,” said Bel­lows, who served as ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Amer­ic­an Civil Liber­ties Uni­on of Maine for the last eight years.

But Bel­lows did de­scribe her cam­paign as hav­ing re­ceived dona­tions from more than 2,600 sup­port­ers in Maine, many in $5 and $10 in­cre­ments, she said, adding that sup­port­ers know “we’re us­ing our cam­paign funds for voter out­reach.”

Pressed, Bel­lows said, “I sup­port the Second Amend­ment.” But she ad­ded, “I think the Second Amend­ment is con­gru­ent with com­mon-sense meas­ures,” in­clud­ing back­ground checks. “The race isn’t just about me,” she said, ar­guing that it’s about “the threat of a Re­pub­lic­an ma­jor­ity in the Sen­ate.”

Dav­id Tra­han, the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Sports­man’s Al­li­ance, said he’s come across little ques­tion­ing or con­tro­versy about the dona­tion to the group, which claims 10,000 mem­bers. “Not really. When people find out the pro­ceeds went to­ward gun edu­ca­tion, it just dies on the vine,” he said.

Tick­ets for the raffle were $1 for adults, free for kids. Tra­han said Monday he could not re­call pre­cisely who won the shot­gun, but that it was an adult. Part of the pro­cess be­fore hand­ing the gun over to the win­ner, he said, was a com­plete back­ground check.

The raffle raised about $1,000 for gun edu­ca­tion pro­grams provided by his group and the 4-H, he said.

Collins last year com­plained about at­tack ads run against her for her sup­port of the bi­par­tis­an back­ground-check amend­ment sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. The le­gis­la­tion failed.

Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation spokes­man An­drew Arulanan­dam on Monday said his or­gan­iz­a­tion has not yet is­sued a grade in 2014 for Collins. “She was a C-plus in 2008” when Collins won her third term in the Sen­ate, he said.

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