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Conservative group launches ad campaign thanking Collins after Kavanaugh vote

Conservative group launches ad campaign thanking Collins after Kavanaugh vote
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The conservative organization that spent millions of dollars backing Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughProtesters confront Cruz at airport over Kavanaugh vote Trump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE's nomination has launched a six-figure ad campaign supporting Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSusan Collins and the mob mentality Graham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh St. Lawrence alumni, faculty want honorary degree for Collins revoked MORE (Maine) following her vote to confirm Kavanaugh, The Washington Post reported Friday.

“In the midst of the chaos one leader stood out,” an ad from the Judicial Crisis Network says, according to the paper. “She did the right thing, supporting him. Thanks Susan Collins, for being a reasonable voice in Washington.” 

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The organization declined to comment on the cost of the ad campaign, but told the paper that the campaign would total more than $100,000 for television and digital ads. The group spent over $5 million in its campaign to defend Kavanaugh, predominantly targeting vulnerable red-state Senate Democrats. 

The Post notes that the conservative group is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, or a “dark money” group, that is not legally required to disclose the sources of its funding.

"Senator Collins is against dark money — period," a spokesperson for her office told The Hill on Saturday, in response to news of the Judicial Crisis Network's ad campaign. "It makes no difference whether it’s used by interest groups to praise her or criticize her. In Maine, we saw nearly double the amount of ads opposing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination as we saw ads supporting him — that’s what she made reference to in her speech from the Senate floor."

Collins, who was seen as a key swing vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation, was the focus of a sustained effort by progressive groups who raised millions to encourage the senator to vote "no" on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE's second Supreme Court nominee.

Collins criticized progressive groups after they pledged millions of dollars to her potential 2020 opponent, should she vote to confirm Kavanaugh. The Maine senator ultimately voted to support Kavanaugh and later called the crowdfunding effort an attempt to "buy votes and buy positions." 

Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court last week prompted public outrage in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct brought against him and his combative testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the accusations. 

The Judicial Crisis Network launched a $1.5 million ad blitz following Christine Blasey Ford going public with allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. It doubled down on its defense of Kavanaugh following another allegation against the judge from Deborah Ramirez.

"This has all of the ingredients of a smear campaign on steroids," Carrie Severino, the policy director and chief counsel for Judicial Crisis Network, said in a statement following the allegations. "Senate Republicans should stand up to these unsubstantiated and discredited allegations and move forward with a vote to confirm Kavanaugh."  

The organization declined to comment to The Hill about its ad buy.

-- Updated 8:41 p.m.