Joe Collins lost to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) in the 2020 election. Now, the 13-year Navy veteran is fighting back against the 15-term House member representing California's 43rd Congressional District — both in court and at the ballot box. This time, he's fighting to win — and he plans to wage his battle using the other side's weapons.
"So one thing that I learned from this last election is we should have collected the ballots," Collins said in an interview on the John Solomon Reports podcast. "They collected the ballots and turned them in — 'threw [theirs out], turn ours in' — that's the game they play, we should have played the same exact game.
"A lot of Republicans are always too nice. They expect everybody else to be nice with them. But ... unfortunately, that's not how the game goes, and I don't want to play the game where I continue to lose. I want to win. And so we're gonna do the same thing they did — ballot harvesting is legal in California."
Collins' legal action against Waters stems from the 2020 campaign, when the 15-term House member known for her incendiary rhetorical style spread a falsehood about Collins' military discharge.
"Well, she started creating rumors saying that I was dishonorably discharged," Collins recounted.
"It really made me upset," he recalled, "because, you know, as a 13-year U.S. Navy veteran, combat veteran served in Iraq, you know, lost everything fighting for this country, to have somebody tell me that I was dishonorably discharged, especially somebody who's sitting in Congress, was absolutely disrespectful."
"So we sent her, and the media outlets that she was using, a letter to stop running false advertising, along with a copy of my DD 214," Collins said, referring to the form number for the military's Report of Separation document. "And she completely ignored it and spent more millions of dollars running advertisements. And I guess she thought we were joking. And the next month, we went ahead, and we [filed a lawsuit] against her for defamation, libel, and slander."
"She thought the lawsuit was a campaign stunt, even though I never put it in the media that we filed the lawsuit," Collins continued. "And she ignored it. And she went into default. And, you know, after the default was entered, then she started trying to put in paperwork, when she saw that I wasn't playing games. And, here we are now, Maxine's trying to get documents filed to the court the last minute even though she's already defaulted. And it's been a complete mess. We won in court yesterday ...
"So she filed an anti-SLAPP motion — a free speech motion to say that what she said was part of her free speech rights, which is ridiculous. This is America, you can say what you want to, but you got to pay if you lie, you know, and that's where she's at. But the judge denied [her motion]. The continuation she wanted to file, a judge denied that as well. And the motion to set aside the default, the judge denied that as well, because she was already in default and trying to file all this other paperwork. And even the motion to get a trial, the judge denied that as well. And so now ... we have another court date ... and on this court date, I get to ask her whatever I want to."