Politics

Chris Collins Suspends Campaign Just Days After Criminal Indictment

New York Republican faces charges related to insider trading

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., has suspended his re-election campaign after his arrest and indictment earlier this week on charges related to securities fraud. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who was arrested and indicted on charges related to securities fraud earlier this week, has suspended his re-election campaign.

“Democrats are laser focused on taking back the House, electing Nancy Pelosi Speaker and then launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump,” Collins said in a statement Saturday. “They would like nothing more than to elect an ‘Impeach Trump’ Democrat in this District, which is something that neither our country or my party can afford.”

“After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best interests of the constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda for me to suspend my campaign for re-election to Congress,” the three-term congressman added. 

Collins was arrested Wednesday in New York, but had reportedly told supporters that he’d still run for re-election to the 27th District, which includes the Buffalo suburbs and rural counties in Western New York. In the wake of Collins’ arrest, Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales shifted the rating for his re-election from Solid Republican to Likely Republican.

Removing Collins’ name from the ballot would be extremely difficult under New York State law. According to a spokesman for the state Board of Elections, the three avenues to removing a name from the ballot are: if the candidate dies; does not meet the basic requirements for candidacy like minimum age and residency in the state; or runs for another office and declines the nomination for the first office that candidate was seeking.

Collins had been facing Democrat Nate McMurray, the Grand Island town supervisor. After Collin’ arrest, Democrats were optimistic about having a better shot at picking up this seat, which President Donald Trump carried by 24 points in 2016. McMurray has struggled with fundraising, though, with only $82,000 in the bank at the end of June. His candidacy could attract more attention in an open-seat race.

Collins said Saturday that he will fill out the remaining months of his term “to assure that our community maintains its vote in Congress to support President Trump’s agenda to create jobs, eliminate regulations, reduce the size of government, address immigration and lower taxes.”

In a statement later Saturday, McMurray called on Collins to resign.

“It is a continuing disgrace that both parties have not said, with one clear voice, ‘resign, Mr. Collins, and do it today.’ Well, let me do it for them: Mr. Collins, suspension is one thing but it is time for you to resign. Do it today,” McMurray said. 

“Pundits who a week ago couldn’t pronounce my name or tell the difference between Hamburg, NY and Hamburg, Germany are now laser focused on this campaign,” McMurray added.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers said he respected Collins decision to not seek re-election in the face of “these serious allegations.”

“As I’ve said before, Congress must hold ourselves to the highest possible standard,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement.

Watch: Collins’ Challenger: We Raised More This Morning Than ‘In the Whole Race’

Collins’ indictment is tied to the sale of shares in an Australian biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, on whose board he serves.

[Chris Collins Joins Long List of Indicted Members of Congress]

After the company’s signature drug failed a drug trial, Collins shared the then-nonpublic news with his son Cameron Collins, who then sold nearly $1.4 million of Innate Immunotherapeutics shares, according to a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Collins, who served on the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, himself lost millions after the failed trial, when the company’s stock price suffered a precipitous drop. He could not unload his stock as he was serving on the board.  

Last August, the House Ethics Committee took up an inquiry into Collins and the allegations that he had shared nonpublic information about the company, in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law.

[Other Politicians Held, Recently Sold Stock That Got Chris Collins Arrested]

“I will also continue to fight the meritless charges brought against me and I look forward to having my good name cleared of any wrongdoing,” Collins said Saturday.

Watch: Pass the Pie and the Secrets: Collins Allegedly Shared Insider Trading Knowledge While At Congressional Picnic

Eric Garcia, Lindsey McPherson, Todd Ruger and Paul Fontelo contributed to this report.

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