Three days after being charged by federal prosecutors with insider trading and lying to the FBI, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) announced on Saturday that he would end his campaign for another term in the Congress, but because of complicated election laws in the state of New York, it’s possible that his name could remain on the ballot in November.
“After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best interest of my constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda for me to suspend my campaign for re-election to Congress,” Collins wrote in a statement on Twitter.
Collins said he would serve out the rest of his term, which expires in early January of 2019, while also fighting what he labeled the ‘meritless’ charges filed this week by federal prosecutors, who allege that Collins used inside information about a biotech firm to tip off his son and others about non-public information, allowing them to sell the company’s stock in order to avoid financial losses.
Collins had initially told reporters on Thursday evening in Buffalo that he would stay in the race for Congress.
“I will mount a vigorous defense,” Collins said, with his wife standing at his side.
But the announcement today doesn’t mean that name of the three-term incumbent will be taken off the ballot in New York, as the election laws in the Empire State would make that rather complicated.
One possible choice is for the state Republican Party to put Collins on the ballot in another race, as the Buffalo News reported that Collins’ name could only be taken off the ballot by what the newspaper described as a “series of political maneuvers rarely – if ever – used in all of New York.”
Before Wednesday’s federal indictment, this seat in the Buffalo-area of western New York was considered very safe for Republicans – but obviously, the charges have changed that dynamic.
But, history shows it would not be out of the question for Collins to win re-election, even under the cloud of this indictment – just go back four years to the other end of New York, where Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) had been indicted on corruption charges – he won that race, but resigned his seat a few months later.
Democrats meanwhile called for Collins to quit.
“Speaker Ryan must call on Congressman Collins to resign,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in a written statement. “No person is above the law, not the President or his first supporter in Congress.”