Last October, in an hour-long speech on the Senate floor, Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced she would cast the deciding vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. That decision seemed to place her political future in the Senate in jeopardy, as activists pledged to support a challenge to her re-election bid in response to her vote for Kavanaugh. However, it appears the Senator is not without her supporters as well.
A group funded by Wall Street executives and other deep-pocketed donors called No Labels recently held a fundraiser in Collins’ honor. Oil magnate and No Labels co-founder Andrew Tisch, whose Park Avenue apartment served as the fundraiser’s venue, encouraged attendees to donate the maximum $5,600 to Collins’ campaign.
1/ THIS EVENING: @NoLabelsOrg — describes itself as "Not left. Not right. Forward" — hosts cocktail reception for @SenatorCollins, R-Maine, at NYC home of Loews Corp Chairman Andrew Tisch, per invitation obtained by @publici.
Per invite: $5,600 contrib to Collins requested. pic.twitter.com/zr7Y6YpqzE
— Dave Levinthal (@davelevinthal) April 16, 2019
Tisch’s industry was a major beneficiary of the Trump tax plan. His Loews Corporation boasted of a $200 million gain thanks to the tax cuts. Meanwhile, the average Collins constituent has seen a tax hike.
Given this, it’s little surprise No Labels has been referred to as “a corporate shill.” The organization — which bills itself as an advocate for bipartisanship — seems to favor pro-corporate, far right policies often championed by Republicans. While the Problem Solvers Caucus, a self-styled bipartisan working group formed and financed by No Labels, dismisses progressive ideas like tuition-free public college or basic income, it noticeably does not dismiss far-right policies that enrich the wealthy backers of No Labels, like Trump’s tax plan.
Perhaps the most strikingly bipartisan effort of the Problem Solvers Caucus is their total failure to actually solve any problems. Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona) said their track record was “nonexistent.”
“They are just roadkill in the legislative process,” an aide of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) told the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, policies the caucus — and by extension No Labels — have written off are genuinely what the majority of Americans across the political spectrum support.
This all makes No Labels’ bipartisan claim a dubious one.
Collins’ 2020 war chest boasts $3.8 million, mostly from wealthy out-of-state donors like those at the No Labels fundraiser. Meanwhile, activists pledged $2 million to her eventual opponent based solely on her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Senate races are expensive, and Maine’s 2020 senate election is already shaping up to be a particularly pricey contest.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.