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GOP senators slam activists protesting Collins ahead of Kavanaugh vote

Updated 2:17 PM ET, Wed September 12, 2018

Washington (CNN) - A group of Republican senators are defending their GOP colleague Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday from liberal protesters pushing the the Maine senator to vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, described the protesters' actions as "false, nasty, vulgar, personal, uncivil verbal abuse of an honorable and diligent public servant like Senator Collins."

Collins is facing a crowdfunding campaign from liberal activists who threaten to support her opponent in a future Senate re-election if she votes yes for Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice.

Collins told The Wall Street Journal in an editorial published Tuesday that the attacks, which includes phone calls, from protestors have been profane.

"In one case -- and we are going to turn this over to the police, but unfortunately, of course, the person didn't leave a name or number -- but they actually threatened to rape one of my young female staffers," she said of the attacks.

Cornyn wasn't the only senator to defend Collins. GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas are slamming Democrats for not speaking out against the liberal activists.

"Every Democrat should be condemning these antics in Maine— attempting to bribe Senator Collins to vote against Judge Kavanaugh and threatening sexual violence against staffers if she votes for him is absolutely disgusting," Hatch said in a tweet.

Cruz later quote-tweeted Hatch and said: "The harassment campaign from the far Left against Susan Collins—including threats of sexual violence against her staffers and potential illegal bribery—is truly shameful, and shows the desperation of the radicals to try to stop the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. It won't work."

The liberal groups behind the fundraising effort -- Maine People's Alliance, Mainers for Accountable Leadership and activist Ady Barkan -- have raised more than $1.1 million on the Crowdpac website. As of Wednesday, 40,908 have pledged $1,138,067 on the website.

The groups note on the platform that if Collins votes no for Kavanaugh, none of the money they've raised will be collected to use against her opponent. But if she votes yes for Kavanaugh, the money will go toward whoever she faces in a reelection bid.

"If you fail to stand up for the people of Maine and for Americans across the country, every dollar donated to this campaign will go to your eventual Democratic opponent in 2020. We will get you out of office," the page states.

A spokesperson for Collins, Annie Clark, called the campaign "bribery" and said it won't sway her vote.

"Bribery will not work on Senator Collins," she said. "Extortion will not work on Senator Collins. And anybody who thinks these tactics would work on Senator Collins obviously doesn't know her. This crowdedfunded money to pressure her is based on a quid pro quo -- you vote the way we want and we will keep more than a million dollars away from your opponent -- vote against us and we give her the money."

She continued:" It is basically a bribe. Sen. Collins will make up her mind based on the merits of the nomination. Threats or other attempts to bully her will not play a factor in her decision making whatsoever."

This isn't the only protests Collins has faced. Dana Singiser, vice president for public policy and government affairs at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said last week Planned Parenthood is focused on activism like phone calls and letter-writing to Collins and her GOP colleague Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Collins, as well as Murkowski, has been open about her support for women's health care, including abortion rights. They are two potential swing votes on Kavanaugh.


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