Indicted Republican Rep. Chris Collins Will Remain on November Ballot

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), under federal indictment for insider trading and lying to investigators, will remain on the ballot in November, his attorney said Monday, reversing Collins’s initial decision to suspend his campaign for reelection.

That is a scenario that Republican Party officials had hoped to avoid. While New York’s 27th Congressional District is heavily Republican, Democrats believe that with Collins on the ballot, they have an outside chance of claiming the seat in November as they fight to retake the House majority.

For weeks, state Republican officials explored finding a way for Collins to vacate the general election ballot and replace him with an untainted GOP candidate, but under New York state law there are scant options for a primary winner to spurn his party’s nomination. Short of death or moving out of state, Collins would have had to accept the Republican nomination for another state office.

Mark Braden, a lawyer for Collins, rejected that option in a statement released Monday.

“Because of the protracted and uncertain nature of any legal effort to replace Congressman Collins we do not see a path allowing Congressman Collins to be replaced on the ballot,” he said.

Nick Langworthy, chairman of the Erie County Republican Party in New York, told reporters that Collins’s decision to remain on the ballot was a “pretty great surprise” after he and other party officials had spent weeks trying to orchestrate Collins’s replacement.

“Our hope was to substitute a candidate that could have run as a true conservative Republican working to pass President Trump’s agenda without distraction,” he told reporters at a news conference. “Unfortunately we’re not going to have that opportunity at this point.”

Langworthy said he learned Friday from Collins’s lawyers that Collins would not, in fact, cooperate with that process and confirmed that fact Monday morning in a phone call with Collins himself. He declined to describe the phone call except to say that Collins indicated he was following his attorneys’ advice.

“You can’t help but feel like a jilted groom at the altar here,” Langworthy said, saying Republicans “had the rug pulled out from under us” by Collins.

Federal prosecutors charged Collins in August with 11 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to investigators. Collins served as chairman of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australia-based pharmaceutical firm that had undertaken a high-stakes drug trial. In June 2017, according to prosecutors, Collins learned in his capacity as chairman that the trial had failed, then tipped off his son, allowing the son and other family members to avoid more than $700,000 in losses by selling their stakes before the news was made public.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis