On September 30, 2019, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY27) resigned his position in the U.S. House of Representatives. On October 1, he pleaded guilty to a federal charge relating to securities fraud and to another charge relating to lying to the federal government.
Collins was indicted last August based on accusations that he had used insider information about Innate Immunotherapeutics, a biotech firm with which he was heavily involved, to encourage his son to dump his stocks in the company in anticipation of a dramatic drop in their value. Initially, he pleaded not guilty and ran for re-election, winning the race by a small margin. According to NBC News, he faces potential sentences of five years in prison on each charge and potential fines reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Collins has had a long business career, followed by a stint as Erie County Executive and multiple terms in Congress. While his desire to protect his son from financial losses was laudable, his use of illegal means to do so was unacceptable—as was his dishonesty when questioned by the FBI. It is distressing that his career is ending this way; however, the voters of New York’s 27th congressional district will now have the opportunity to elect a representative who is not tainted by criminality. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to call a special election to fill the vacancy early next year.