Politics

Doug Collins And Kelly Loeffler Trade Blows Over Pro-Life Support As Georgia Senate Race Ramps Up

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • Pro-life groups have endorsed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in her effort to defeat Republican Rep. Doug Collins in a race for a Georgia Senate seat. 
  • A spokesman for Loeffler told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Collins has “repeatedly sided with special interests and voted to fund Planned Parenthood.” 
  • A Collins spokesman took a stab at both Loeffler and the pro-life groups Tuesday, saying that they chose to side with “the powerful in Washington” rather than the unborn. 

A spokesman for Republican Rep. Doug Collins hit back at pro-life groups supporting Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler for a Georgia Senate seat, saying they chose to side with the “powerful in Washington” rather than the unborn.

The Georgia politicians clashed as a spokesman for Loeffler lambasted Collins’ voting record on abortion and a spokesman for Collins accused Loeffler of buying endorsements from pro-life groups.

Loeffler spokesman Stephen Lawson told the Daily Caller News Foundation Tuesday that Collins has repeatedly voted to fund Planned Parenthood and that these votes show Collins “can’t be trusted.” His comment refer to appropriations bills that some conservative groups criticized for failing to stem the flow of money to Planned Parenthood.

Collins campaign spokesman Dan McLagan pushed back on this accusation, noting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted with Collins on both bills while Republican Georgia Sen. David Perdue voted with Collins on one.

“Is Kelly attacking them too? They’re gonna be ticked,” McLagan said, adding that neither bill funded Planned Parenthood. (RELATED: Georgia Governor Brushes Off Pro-Life Warnings Against His Potential Senate Pick As ‘Ridiculous’)

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) waits for the beginning of a ceremonial swearing-in at the Old Senate Chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 6, 2020 in Washington, DC. Sen. Loeffler was appointed to the seat to succeed former Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), who resigned for health reasons. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Kelly Loeffler waits for the beginning of a ceremonial swearing-in. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Collins spokesman pointed out that Georgia Life Alliance previously said that Collins “has a 100% pro-life voting record with every pro-life organization in Washington” and that Collins acted as master of ceremonies for the Georgia Life Alliance’s gala in 2019.

Shortly after this gala, McLagan said, the organization announced a $3 million ad campaign that would support Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue, the senior Georgia Republican senator.

“They endorsed Loeffler who has raised money for [Planned Parenthood] over Doug who lives and breathes the pro-life cause?” McLagan told the DCNF. “Seems like they sided with the powerful in Washington over the most powerless of us all, the unborn.”

McLagan was referring to November concerns from pro-life leaders that Loeffler donated to Planned Parenthood through her WNBA team the Atlanta Dream.

Though the WNBA gives money to Planned Parenthood, Lawson told the DCNF, neither the Atlanta Dream nor Loeffler has done so. The Loeffler spokesman said Collins’s staff is “having to resort to lies and previously debunked claims because Kelly has established herself as a 100% pro-life candidate and she’s getting the endorsements for her strong record.”

Collins also accused Loeffler in February of covertly funding the Georgia Life Alliance. (RELATED: Loeffler Hits Collins For ‘Shameful’ Record On Abortion, Touts Pro-Life Endorsements In Georgia Senate Race)

“What I think is happening is they got a large infusion of cash from Kelly. They’ve hardly raised $50,000 and then they suddenly announce a $3 million ad buy?” Collins said, the Atlantic Journal Constitution reported. “It’s more than fishy. They can deny it all they want. I guess they thought I’d be quiet and not say anything about it.”

The organization had never seen so much cash before, the AJC reported, noting that GLA raised about $80,000 in 2017 and ended that year with less than $10,000. GLA did not file a tax return in 2018 as the organization did not bring in more than $50,000, the publication reports.

GLA Executive Director Joshua Edmonds said in February that the organization had not received funds from Loeffler, though he did not disclose where the funds for the ad buy came from. GLA does not disclose donors, he told the DCNF Tuesday, but has not “received contributions from any of the candidates for the U.S. Senate Special Election.”

Edmonds also told the DCNF that the organization announced their campaign to support Loeffler and other pro-life candidates before anyone had announced they would run against her.

“As we stated repeatedly in 2016 when we defended Congressman Collins from attacks from his challengers, we are not in the business of tearing down pro-life leaders for the sake of politics,” Edmonds said.

When Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed her to the vacant Senate seat, Loeffler initially sparked anxiety from pro-life groups over her position on the board of Grady Memorial Hospital and her ownership of the WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream.

Pro-life organizations, including the March for Life, the Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America expressed concerns in November 2019 that Grady employs five abortionists and said the hospital is affiliated with Emory Medical School, the largest training program for abortionists in Georgia. They also highlighted that the WNBA has partnered with Planned Parenthood.

Lawson, Loeffler’s spokesman, referred the DCNF to a December AJC report showing that Grady Hospital does not perform elective abortions and has not for at least a decade, noting that Loeffler began serving on the board there in 2014. He also said that the Atlanta Dream has “never donated a penny” to Planned Parenthood, though the WNBA has.

“Kelly Loeffler’s position on the board of Grady Memorial Hospital, one of the largest purveyors of abortion in Georgia and a training ground for abortionists, should disqualify her from representing the state in the U.S. Senate,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a November statement.

And March for Life President Tom McCloskey also said in a November statement: “It would be hugely disappointing if Governor Kemp appoints her to a critical seat in the U.S. Senate. After the Senate gains made by conservative and pro-life candidates in the 2018 election, this would be a huge setback.”

Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance also spoke out against Loeffler, saying that Loeffler is a part-owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, which Nance said is an outspoken supporter of Planned Parenthood. Lawson told the DCNF that this claim is incorrect.

Kemp responded at the time by saying that “the idea that I would appoint someone to the U.S. Senate that is NOT pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-freedom, and 100% supportive of our President (and his plan to Keep America Great) is ridiculous,” and said he couldn’t “care less what the political establishment thinks.”

SBA List, the March for Life and Concerned Women for America did not respond to requests for comment from the DCNF.

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