GOP Rep. Chris Collins from New York is suspending his re-election campaign shortly after he was arrested on insider trading charges. The move was quite a change of tune for the lawmaker, who had vowed days ago to press forward with his re-election campaign as he dismissed the charges as “meritless.” But on Saturday, the three-term congressman issued a statement saying that “after extensive discussions with my family and my 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 and his son are facing multiple charges, including securities fraud, wire fraud, and false statements all of which are part of an alleged insider trading scheme tied to an Australian pharmaceutical company. Prosecutors claim Collins, who sits on the board of the pharmaceutical company, helped family members avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses by revealing information about the failure of a drug in clinical trials.
Collins, who was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump in 2016, pleaded not guilty to the charges and insists he is innocent but says that staying in the race would only help Democrats elect one of their own in the heavily Republican district. “Democrats are laser focused on taking back the House, electing Nancy Pelosi Speaker and then launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump,” Collins’ statement read. “They would like nothing more than to elect an ‘Impeach Trump’ Democrat in this District, which is something that neither our country or my party can afford.” Collins did make clear he won’t be stepping down and will “fill out the remaining few months of my term.”
Getting his name off the ballot won’t be that simple. Politico explains:
Under New York law, Collins’ name can be supplanted on the ballot at this stage of the cycle only if he dies, moves out of state or is nominated for another office — like a local judgeship. According to Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, the exact mechanisms are still being worked out, but he noted Collins owns houses in Florida and Washington, D.C.
“At this point, he has decided it’s a distraction focusing on his legal situation,” Langworthy said. “It was a distraction for us trying to retain the seat as conservative and Republican leadership. So, I think it was the best decision given the circumstances, and I wish him and his family the best.”
His decision also came after growing pressure from Republicans, both from within and outside his district. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan removed Collins from the Energy and Commerce Committee and called for an Ethics Committee investigation. In his district, several potential replacements quickly started working behind the scenes to garner support.