Saturday, August 18News That Matters

Chris Collins suspends re-election campaign following insider trading charges

“After extensive discussions with my family and 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,” Collins said in a statement. His announcement reverses a comment he made last Wednesday insisting that he would “remain on the ballot running for re-election this November” despite the charges.
Collins’ move sets up a scramble by Republicans to overcome New York’s complicated election laws to remove him from the ballot and replace him with another candidate before November’s midterm elections.
Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged Collins, his son and another man with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and false statements stemming from an alleged insider trading scheme centered on an Australian pharmaceutical company. He could face up to 150 years in prison if convicted on all counts, according to Nick Biase, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York.
Collins has maintained that he is not guilty of the charges, saying in his statement on Saturday that he would “continue to fight the meritless charges brought against me and I look toward to having my good name cleared of any wrongdoing.”
Although Collins is now suspending his campaign, it’s too late for him to withdraw from the ballot, according to the New York Board of Elections. The nominee would have to die, accept a nomination to a different office or be disqualified, board spokesman John Conklin said.
“In the unlikely event that he’s convicted of something prior to Election Day, that still wouldn’t get him off the ballot,” Conklin told CNN. “State law doesn’t apply to federal offices, meaning you can have a conviction on your record and still run.”
Collins’ decision not to actively campaign could give his opponent, Democrat Nate McMurray, an opportunity to pick up the heavily Republican western New York district, which stretches between the suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester.
President Donald Trump won the district by 24 percentage points in 2016. A pick-up there would boost Democrats’ hopes of winning a net gain of 23 seats and taking control of the House in this year’s midterms.
Collins also said Saturday that he’s not immediately stepping down and will “fill out the remaining few months of my term.”
McMurray told CNN he thinks Collins faced pressure to stop the re-election campaign.
“I think he had a lot of pressure on him, and I like to think that some part of him knew it was the right thing to do,” McMurray said.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement that he respects Collins’ decision to step down.
“As I’ve said before, Congress must hold ourselves to the highest possible standards,” he added.

CNN’s Erica Orden, Adam Levy, Sonia Moghe, Kwegyirba Croffie and Dan Merica contributed to this report.

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