Indicted GOP Congressman Ends Reelection Bid

But will Republicans be able to replace Chris Collins?

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.)Bill Clark/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Embattled New York Congressman Chris Collins announced Saturday that he is suspending his reelection campaign—a move that comes several days after he was indicted on federal insider trading charges. Collins said in a statement that he will finish out his current term “to support President Trump’s agenda.”

According to prosecutors, the congressman, who was on the board of an Australian pharmaceutical company, passed insider information about a failed drug trial to his son. Collins’ son and others then allegedly sold their stock before its price plummeted, avoiding $768,000 in potential losses.

“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 in his statement.

https://twitter.com/RepChrisCollins/status/1028280002121482240?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1028280002121482240&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnbc.com%2F2018%2F08%2F11%2Fny-gop-congressman-chris-collins-suspends-campaign.html

Collins has the distinction of being the first sitting lawmaker to endorse Donald Trump for president. The three-term congressman represents a heavily Republican district—Trump won by 24 points in 2016. After Collins’ indictment, the Cook Political Report quickly changed the district’s rating from solid Republican to likely Republican.

At this point, it’s not clear how easy it will be for Republicans to replace Collins on the ballot. New York state has especially strict rules limiting the situations in which a candidate can drop out. Basically, he’d have to die, run for another office, or leave the state, elections expert Jerry H. Goldfeder told the New York Times.

A Republican operative told CNN Saturday that the party might indeed nominate Collins for a town clerkship in order to remove him from the congressional ballot. A local GOP official, meanwhile, told Politico that the party had yet to finalize its plans, but “he noted Collins owns houses in Florida and Washington, DC.”

In an email to Mother Jones, however, Goldfeder said he believed it would be too late for Collins to withdraw from the race by moving out of state. “The only way he can be replaced is if the Republicans are brazen enough to run him for another office,” Goldfeder said. “He cannot move out of the state before Election Day.”

Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping that Collins’ opponent, Nate McMurray, can compete in the upstate New York district.

This story has been updated.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest