Susan Collins ad features 'lobsterman' who's really an ex-lawmaker she donated to

Wayne Parry served four terms as a Republican state representative and is currently a candidate for his old seat.

A new ad from Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) presents a longtime lawmaker and political ally as supporter and an ordinary "lobsterman."\

The commercial features Arundel, Maine, resident Wayne Parry praising Collins for her work on passage of coronavirus relief programs for businesses and attacking her Democratic opponent, state House Speaker Sara Gideon.

Unmentioned in the spot is that Parry served four terms as a Republican state representative and is currently a candidate for his old seat.

"I've been fishing these traps for longer than Sara Gideon's lived in Maine," Parry says in the ad, which identifies him only as "Wayne Parry, lobsterman, Arundel."

"...When Sara Gideon attacks Susan Collins on the Paycheck Protection Program, I know Gideon's not being honest," he continues, referring to the troubled multi-billion dollar small business loan program passed earlier this year as part of the coronavirus relief package. "Susan wrote the PPP, which helped thousands of Maine's small businesses, just like mine."

According to campaign finance data from the National Institute on Money in Politics, Parry received donations in each of his previous four campaigns from Dirigo PAC, Collins' official leadership political action committee. In total, she sent him almost $1,000 for those races — a sizable donation given that his entire 2016 campaign cost less than $13,000.

Neither the Collins nor Parry campaigns immediately responded to inquiries about the ad.

A Collins spokesperson told The American Independent Foundation in February that she "has worked for greater transparency in our campaign financing system."

The Maine lawmaker is not the first vulnerable 2020 Senate Republican caught trying to present political staffers and officials as ordinary supporters.

Last week, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) released a campaign ad featuring an operative with close ties to the state Republican Party. In that spot, the woman — identified only as a Sandy Springs, Georgia, resident — praised Perdue's work on health care and prescription drugs.

Earlier this year, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) used a former staffer in a campaign ad to make false claims about her record on preexisting conditions. The ad made no mention of the fact that McSally had paid her nearly $400,000 for her work as McSally's 2014 campaign manager, deputy House chief of staff, and 2018 Senate campaign consultant.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. Attribution to Josh Isreal.