The ironic phrase, “No good deed goes unpunished” has developed new meaning of late as the assault of smear ads on Sen. Susan Collins by the campaign of Sara Gideon, and the various dark money groups funding her, has prompted even some normally unflappable locals to comment to me that they are sick of the blitz of ads. I looked up Gideon’s ads online and they are pretty appalling stuff. Slick, dishonest and manipulative is a charitable way of describing them. They represent politics at its worst, definitely a new low for Maine.

Given Sen. Collins' record of never having missed a roll call vote after 7,300 votes vs. Sara Gideon’s do-nothing record during this current crisis ― aside from sitting at home on video calls campaigning and opining that she doesn’t know much about Gov. Mills’ thinking or planning — it is pretty easy to see that this is an ad campaign of disinformation designed by professionals who will stop at nothing to con voters in Maine. If Sara Gideon cannot find a way to be productive in Augusta during a statewide crisis, what is she doing running for the U.S. Senate?

Let us not forget that the media organizations being paid to run the ads ― on TV, online, in print media, and  radio ― must be making a fortune just from the out-of-state funders.

In April alone they’ve broadcast 1,735 negative ads targeting Sen. Collins, angling to elect in her place the ethically challenged Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon. That is about 43 paid video/TV advertisements every single day. Think about the money involved there for a minute ― we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars every week ― and recognize that the vast majority of it most certainly is NOT coming from Maine people. These are largely funded by “dark money” groups that Gideon claims to reject as they do not disclose their donors, Maine Momentum and 16 Counties Coalition.

A few of the listed contributors to Sara Gideon have such Maine-centric names it is hard to miss them: Great Lakes PAC, Holding Onto Oregon’s Priorities, Tri-State Maxed Out Women, Hawaii PAC. Not sure that Oregon’s priorities or Hawaii’s are comparable, but it explains who wants Gideon elected, as they’re dumping a lot of money into her campaign.

In September 2019, Forbes magazine stated “with an anticipated Senate seat up for grabs, Maine’s two largest TV markets, Portland and Bangor, could see over half of their local TV advertising revenue coming from political dollars.” Current estimates are that around $55 million will be spent to buy Maine voters’ attention and allegiance.

This negative campaigning is unfortunately the superficial over substance in every sense. Sen. Collins proposes the Paycheck Protection Program (known as PPP) and herds it through passage to help the entire country — and especially Maine’s crippled economy. Is she grandstanding about it? Nope, she is back to work in the Senate or here in Maine, representing a reasoned Maine voice, unassuming and determined to see the state survive this crisis.

What does the opposition hold out as “better qualified”? Not someone who can plausibly be presented as a hardworking, ethical Maine legislator with years of national experience, and willing to work across the aisle. Gideon’s ads, implying that she has been bipartisan in Maine, are absurd.

Consider for a moment that 18,000 Maine businesses have been able to get funding from the PPP — including these very papers — The Courier Gazette, The Camden Herald and The Republican Journal.

The nation did not see Sen. Charles Schumer (a major funder of the PACs funding Gideon’s campaign) stepping up to produce such helpful legislation. Nope, he and Speaker Pelosi wanted $250 billion more, mostly to bail out failed state governments run by Democrats, and failed state pension funds such as Illinois and California. If Gov. Mills doesn’t change her direction, Maine will be right in line behind them soon.

Our region ought to be thanking Sen. Collins for her productive approach to the current crisis and helping Maine weather the economic and spiritual storm that it has brought. Let’s keep her there as our senator.

Another View is a Maine Press Association award-winning column written by Midcoast conservative citizens/writers Jan Dolcater, Ken Frederic, Paul Ackerman, Doc Wallace and Dale Landrith Sr.