Fact-check: Actually, Susan Collins voted ‘no’ on Paul Ryan’s budget

Republican Sen. Susan Collins, left, and Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows, right. BDN file photos.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins, left, and Democratic challenger Shenna Bellows, right. BDN file photos.

Earlier this week, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows told the crowd at a rally headlined by former President Bill Clinton that her opponent, Republican Susan Collins, had voted for the controversial budget presented by Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin.

Ryan chairs the House Budget Committee, and his budget would turn Medicare into a voucher system, repeal much of President Obama’s health law and cut discretionary spending in half, which opponents said would disproportionately affect the poor.

The budget was unpopular with the public, and ultimately failed, three times.

Bellows Twitter Paul Ryan“We cannot afford a senator who talks about fiscal responsibility and then votes for the Paul Ryan budget,” Bellows said. She also tweeted the same message (Click photo at left for full size).

The problem, though, is that Collins never supported the budget. It’s well-documented that she voted against Ryan’s budget in 2011, 2012 and 2013 — a fact Collins’ campaign reminded reporters of in an email Wednesday.

The campaign also released a video, calling Bellows to task for the false statement. Lance Dutson, Collins’ campaign spokesman, said the video would be the first in a series called “Shenna in her own words.”

Bellows campaign, through her spokesman Adam Sarvana, said the candidate’s comment was “a mistake.”

But he also said that while Collins never voted for the Paul Ryan budget, she had supported other proposals — such as sequestration, other GOP budgets and the “Cut, Cap and Balance Act” that would have pegged future spending to GDP and cut discretionary spending dramatically — that critics have pegged as part of the same small-government, anti-spending bent as Ryan’s budget proposal.

“If Shenna had said ‘talks about fiscal discipline and then voted for sequestration,’ there would have been no controversy,” Sarvana wrote in an email. “It was our error and we regret it. They, in turn, should explain Collins’ willingness to vote for bills that do all the same things [as Ryan's budget proposal].”

UPDATE: Sarvana called me to say that Bellows’ mistake was the fault of bad opposition research on the part of staff, not the candidate herself.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House.