The Slatest

Indicted New York Congressman Chris Collins Changes Mind, Is Still Running for Re-election

Chris Collins outside a courthouse, surrounded by cameras
Rep. Chris Collins stands outside a federal courthouse in New York City after being charged with insider trading on Aug. 8.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Chris Collins will stay on the ballot for New York’s 27th Congressional District election despite being indicted for insider trading. Collins, a Republican and one of President Trump’s earliest endorsers, had said he wouldn’t run for re-election following his August indictment on counts of securities fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud, and making false statements.

Collins was running for his fourth term when his long-questioned association with Australian pharmaceutical company Innate Immunotherapeutics caught up with him. Collins had served on the company’s board and, according to federal prosecutors, had let his son Cameron know about a failed test last summer for a new drug, enabling Cameron, his father-in-law, and others to dodge more than $750,000 in losses by selling the stock before it lost nearly all its value.

Since his indictment, Collins has consistently insisted that he’s innocent. “I was always very careful, as I updated other shareholders of the progress of the company, to make sure that anything that I told them was already in the public domain, things that were not privileged at all, and was always very careful about that,” he told a Buffalo-area TV station last week.

When asked directly if he had tipped off his son to the failed test, Collins said, “I’m not going to discuss the case, Dave, other than to again remind everyone I am innocent of the meritless charges that have been placed against me, and I’m confident I will be exonerated.”

Getting Collins off the ballot would not have been a simple process and could have spurred a Democratic lawsuit, the New York Times reported. The district is one of New York’s more conservative, with an 11-percentage-point Republican lean compared with the rest of the country, and in 2016, Collins won re-election there by more than 30 percentage points. This year he is running against Grand Island town supervisor Nate McMurray, and FiveThirtyEight predicts that Collins has roughly an 80 percent chance of winning.