FACT CHECK: Did “Defund the Police” groups give Sara Gideon millions in funding?

Sara Gideon is receiving more than $6 million in funding and support for her U.S. Senate campaign from groups that advocate to Defund the Police.

FREEPORT, ME – Has Sara Gideon received $6 million in funding and support for her campaign from “Defund the Police” groups? The figure and claim come straight from Senator Susan Collins’ campaign in a recent statement on their website and in statements sent to the press.

A Maine Examiner review of the claim that Gideon has received $6 million in funding and support from groups that want to Defund the Police has found it to be true. In fact, because of the nature of some of the support, the $6 million figure is likely too low.

The first $4 million of the $6 million the Collins campaign says Gideon has received is easy to confirm. A coalition of three groups, Be a Hero, Mainers for Accountable Leadership and the Maine People’s Alliance teamed up to funnel $4 million to Gideon through a crowdfunding effort Gideon cashed in on shortly after the Democratic Primary in July.

Be a Hero founder Ady Barkan tweeted in July, just weeks before Gideon would receive her massive haul from his group, “Defund the police and then defund Junior’s allowance” in a tweet about Donald Trump Jr.

Barkan also famously conducted an interview where he asked Joe Biden if the former Vice President wanted to defund the police, to which Biden, with some qualification, agreed.

Mainers for Accountable Leadership, whose sole existence most often seems to be attacking Senator Susan Collins, has held rallies calling for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be abolished. They have also plainly tweeted “Abolish Ice Defund the Police.”

The Maine People’s Alliance, the third group in Gideon’s $4 million donation triad, has signed on to at least one letter calling to Defund the Police.

Beyond those groups, there are more groups funding and supporting Gideon that also want to Defund the Police.

NextGen, a group founded by former Democratic Presidential candidate Tom Steyer, has prominently featured Defund the Police messages on their website. Along with giving away free “Defund the Police” bumper stickers on their website, NextGen has announced they will spend $2 million in Maine this election cycle, and Steyer previously held a virtual fundraiser for Gideon.

NextGen has already run a TV ad supporting Gideon and has staff on the ground to support her.

Other groups that support Defunding the Police have also thrown their support, financial and otherwise, to Gideon. Planned Parenthood, a major financial backer, has stated they support the Defund the Police movement, as has the Sierra Club – both groups will invest resources into supporting Gideon.

Beyond the easily identified groups, individuals backing the groups have also donated to Gideon, the most prominent of those being Steyer, who gave the maximum donation allowed by law to Gideon. (Steyer actually gave more than legally allowed at one point.)

Conclusion: The $6 million estimate is likely low, and the claim by the Collins campaign is not only true but may underestimate how much financial support the larger Defund the Police movement is providing Gideon.

It is quite easy to confirm the $6 million in funding and support Sara Gideon has received from Defund the Police groups, but the fundraising events they have held for her on top of television ads and more certainly push this total higher.

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