The indictment of Republican Representative Chris Collins will likely force the Republicans to invest more to try to hold what should have been a safe seat, Bloomberg writes. The New York Republican had been heavily favored to win re-election in a November election that in other areas of the country is presenting major challenges to Republican control of Congress.
Soon after the indictment on insider trading charges was announced Wednesday, two independent analysts moved the race from safe or solid Republican to likely Republican, a shift that indicates it’s become more competitive.
“Collins was already under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, but the indictment compounds his political problems in a district that should otherwise be safe GOP territory,” David Wasserman, House editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said in a statement.
Collins responded that the charges are “meritless and I will fight to clear my name”, adding that he will continue running for re-election in November.
“The charges that have been levied against me are meritless and I will mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name. As I fight to clear my name, rest assured I will continue to work hard for the people and constituents of the 27th congressional district of New York and I will remain on the ballot running for re-election this November,” he said, CNBC reports.
The indictment accuses Collins of passing nonpublic information about a tiny Australian biotech company whose board he served on, Innate Immunotherapeutics, to his son, Cameron, that was then used to make timely trades of stock. Cameron Collins is accused of giving that information to Stephen Zarsky, his fiancée’s father, according to the indictment, Business Insider adds.
The allegations are a boost to Democrat Nate McMurray, the town supervisor of Grand Island, in a western New York district outside Buffalo that overwhelmingly supported Trump in 2016. Democrats would need to take at least 23 Republican-held seats in November to gain a majority in the House.
“It’s confirmation that Chris Collins used his position not to serve the public but to serve himself, his friends and his family. The cheaters in this game need to be thrown out,” McMurray told reporters Wednesday in Hamburg, New York.
Collins’ attorneys, Jonathan Barr and Jonathan New, said they will “mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name.”
“It is notable that even the government does not allege that Congressman Collins traded a single share of Innate Therapeutics stock. We are confident he will be completely vindicated and exonerated,” the two attorneys stressed.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said Collins won’t serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee until the matter is resolved, and he called for a House Ethics Committee investigation.