Yet another New York politician has been accused of breaking the law.
On August 8, 2018, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY27) was arrested and charged with securities fraud and wire fraud. The federal government alleges that Rep. Collins received insider information about test results on a drug developed by Innate, an Australian biotech company on whose board Collins served. When the test results were publicly released, Innate’s stock reportedly dropped by 92%; however, Rep. Collins allegedly used the insider information to tip off his son and others beforehand, leading them to sell their company stock before its value plummeted.
Rep. Collins has denied the charges, stating that he “‘acted properly and within the law at all times.’” However, on August 11, Rep. Collins suspended his re-election campaign, stating that it was “‘in the best interests of the constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party, and President Trump’s agenda’” for him to do so.
Rep. Collins’s announcement set off a flurry of political maneuvering in western New York. The first question is whether Rep. Collins’s name can even be removed from the general election ballot at this date. At this writing, local Republicans appear optimistic that they will find a procedural loophole allowing Rep. Collins to withdraw. Assuming that they are correct, the second question is which candidate Republican Party leaders will select to replace Rep. Collins on the November ballot. Fifteen Republicans have been mentioned as potential candidates for the post. Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray is running for the seat as a Democrat, as Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (a former western New York congresswoman who was unseated by Collins in 2012) opted to seek re-election to her current post.