Susan Collins wrote legislation that made millions for her husband's lobbying firm
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) Alex Edelman-Pool / Getty Images
Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is behind Democratic challenger Sara Gideon in a hotly contested election campaign with national implications, as a member of the Senate Government Affairs Committee, wrote treaty reforms that appear to have benefited the lobbying and advisory firm directly to the lobby - and her future husband's consulting firm.
While this firm had a few contracts that coincided with Collins' tenure on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, in 2013 - a year after Collins resigned - it won a major $ 48 million deal with the U.S. agency for international development (USAID) this committee.
Collins met Thomas Daffron in 1974 when she was an intern in the office of Rep. William Cohen, who served three terms in the Senate. (Cohen, a Republican, approved Collins for Senate re-election - and Joe Biden for President.)
Daffron was an advisor to Collins's 1996, 2002, and 2008 Senate campaigns, and ran their executive PAC from 2003 to 2012 when they married. Collins signed the power of attorney when the couple bought a Washington townhouse for $ 705,000, according to public records.
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From 2006 to 2016, Daffron was chief operating officer at a lobby business on K Street called Jefferson Consulting that also did some government contract work. During his time there, the company took on nearly $ 60 million worth of federal contracts, with a significant increase after he became COO.
For most of the time, from 2005 to 2012, Collins was either chairman or a member of the GOP of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, whose portfolio includes overseeing government contracts. Daffron had "suggested [Collins] join the less-than-desirable government affairs committee," the Portland Press Herald reported in 2001.
Tom Daffron, a 16-year-old Cohen employee who worked with Collins, created her campaign advertisement and suggested joining the less-desirable Government Affairs Committee because of the opportunity for high-profile work. A wise choice as she was the first freshman to lead the Standing Subcommittee on Investigations, with staff that upgraded her own staff. Daffron remains a close friend and one of the top advisors in her "kitchen cabinet".
During his tenure on the committee, Collins wrote a contractor reform to "strengthen the procurement workforce," an area that Jefferson Consulting specializes in that has secured tens of millions of dollars in government contracts related to acquisition services.
One such measure was a treaty reform that was signed into law under the Defense Budget 2008. After the budget was passed, Collins highlighted the language for the acquisition, saying she was "particularly pleased that important reforms for the federal workforce for the acquisition have also been initiated."
The association, which represents government companies "by and large", endorsed Collins' bill, calling it a "serious effort to address the root causes of government acquisition challenges".
Between 2006 and 2016, Daffron's company landed more than $ 76 million, according to research on USAspending.gov, spread over dozen of federal contracts related to acquisition and procurement. In 2010, Jefferson Consulting reported that nearly two dozen federal agencies had provided acquisition services and assistance.
Certain specific provisions included in Collins' 2007 treaty reforms appear to have directly benefited Daffron's businesses by adding new requirements for acquisition services that Jefferson specializes in.
For example, one point placed new demands on the chief acquisition officers of every federal agency when Jefferson Consulting entered into a $ 331,000 contract to provide services to the office of the chief procurement officer of the Department of Homeland Security. (Collins' committee oversaw homeland security.)
Another provision stipulated that the Federal Office for Procurement Policy and the Federal Acquisition Institute had to draw up a "strategic plan for the development of acquisition personnel". Daffron's firm later reported that it had assisted the Federal Acquisition Institute with "Strategic Assessments of Acquisition Operations / Acquisition Workforce Studies" - as recorded in April 2010, the earliest available version of the Jefferson Consulting website on the Internet archives.
Collins also created a new "Acquisitions Administrator" tasked with overseeing the acquisition workforce and developing a strategic plan for the acquisition workforce. Jefferson alleged on its website to have provided "strategic assessments of acquisition operations" to eight federal agencies.
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Finally, Collins's reform bill called on USAID to revise its strategy for solving acquisition problems in Afghanistan. In 2013, a year after Collins left the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Jefferson Consulting signed a $ 49 million contract with USAID for procurement support services. Two years later, the company announced that it had entered into a $ 33 million acquisition agreement with USAID.
Neither Collins's office nor Jefferson Consulting responded to Salon’s request for comment.
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