Chris Collins

Trump Supporter Floats Rice As VP; Says Support Of ‘Establishment Elite’ Not Needed

The first sitting congressman to endorse Donald Trump for president doesn’t presume to be in a position to give Trump advice, but as the Trump campaign starts to vet potential vice presidential candidates, Chris Collins said he’d add one name to the list if asked.

“I can tell you my first, second, and third choice is Condoleezza Rice. She’s a game changer,” Collins said.

Given Trump’s icy relationship with Rice’s former boss, George W. Bush, the Western New York Republican admits it’s unclear if the former Secretary of State would even consider teaming up with Trump.

“But if she did it, she would follow Mr. Trump and become the first female President of the United States,” said Collins.

Collins made the suggestion as the Trump team prepares for a much anticipated meeting with GOP congressional leaders Thursday in Washington. Collins is the co-chair of Trump’s House Leadership Committee and was called to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, Wednesday afternoon.

“What I shared with Mr. Ryan today is that Donald Trump listens. He is someone who seeks alternative positions. He is someone from the private sector, as I am, who wants to hear different points of view. He wants to hear lively debate. And he is someone generally in meetings who lets other people do the talking and you wouldn’t necessarily see that on the campaign trail when he’s at rallies,” Collins said.

Ryan and Trump will meet for the first time since the Speaker told CNN last week he was not ready to endorse the presumptive nominee. The comments caught Collins and other Trump supporters off guard.

“He’s (Ryan) agreed we’re going to be united and I said ‘well the sooner you can get comfortable enough to say that, very directly, the better, frankly.’ I’d be thrilled if it’s tomorrow but I guess I don’t necessarily expect it will be, but it will be over the next few weeks, I’m sure, and I’ll let the two of them work that out,” said Collins.

Trump has been under pressure from traditional and more conservative Republicans to not only embrace traditional GOP ideas, but to moderate his tone on the campaign trail. Collins doesn’t expect Trump to bow to that pressure.

“Mr. Trump has to be true to who he is, and I think we will continue to see and hear an outspoken individual but his top-line message hasn’t changed,” Collins said. “The George Bushes, one and two, the Mitt Romneys? He does not need them in his camp. In fact the more that they get aggravated the more Donald Trump’s popularity soars. We want a united party but if you’re talking about establishment Republicans I want them on board, but quite frankly, no, Donald Trump doesn’t need them on board to win this election.”

As far as choosing a VP, Collins will leave that to the Trump team, but he’s holding onto hope unification leads to Rice joining the ticket.

“She brings extraordinary respect and experience. And certainly being a woman she would assist with this ticket. She my kind of thinking outside the box kind of choice,” Collins added.

Cruz-Kasich Partnership Not Going Over Well With Some GOP Leaders

We’ll find out Tuesday, if John Kasich and Ted Cruz’s temporary alliance against Donald Trump pays off. But the initial reaction, at least from some high-profile New York Republicans was not good.

Trump supporters Carl Paladino and Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, gave the expected answers when asked about the partnership. They said Cruz, who can’t mathematically reach the 1237 delegates needed for the nomination, is changing the rules for his own benefit.

“He’s a desperate career politician. I don’t think it will work. I think it will actually backfire on them. You’ve seen the massive turnout, turning out because the voters know they’re frustrated and angry about the direction of our country under Barack Obama,” Collins said.

“One way or another, Trump’s gonna win this thing and that’s sort of predestined. Why, because he’s the best candidate and because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of the American people,” Paladino said.

Perhaps more damning though were the comments from downstate Congressman Peter King, who was Collins’s guest in Western New York, Monday. King has been no fan of Trump, criticizing him in February after he refused to condemn Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.

“I voted for Kasich mainly because I do still have some questions for Donald Trump but I’m not opposed to him. Actually, I’ve had some contact with him after the last several weeks,” King said.

King has made clear how much he does oppose Cruz though. He said last week he’d “take cyanide” if Cruz won the GOP nomination.

“Ted Cruz is a fraud and him to somehow spend all his time in Washington attacking what he called the establishment and now playing an establishment game that’s just going to… again, he’s not the guy who can do this,” King said.

The congressman said he’s not worried about the appearance of a fractured party. He said Republican voters are more energized than Democrats and he’s predicting a victory this fall… just hopefully not for Cruz.

Rep. Collins On CNN Responds To Violence At Trump Rallies

As has been a pretty regular occurrence since he became the first sitting Congressman to endorse Donald Trump, Western New York Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, made another appearance on the cable news networks Tuesday morning.  This time Collins appeared for an interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN’s New Day.

“Obviously today is going to be a very important day with Florida and Ohio. So as this day comes to an end, if Donald Trump wins both Florida and Ohio, we will have our presumptive nominee,” Collins said.

Cuomo questioned Collins about recent violence at Donald Trump rallies, asking if Trump “should calm down his rhetoric.” Collins said Democrats are paying protesters to disrupt the rallies.

“Is the right response to say punch them in the face and other threatening comments? Do you think that’s what you would do if it was your rally?” Cuomo asked.

“It comes down to, one thing you know about Donald Trump, if you punch him he is going to punch back,” Collins answered.

Collins said Trump has shifted his rhetoric in the last few days. He said nobody likes to see what’s going on but said Democrats need to take responsibility for their role in it.

Cuomo pushed further asking Collins if he could prove the protesters are paid. The CNN host noted some of the same groups have been at Hillary Clinton rallies.

Cuomo asked if Clinton was paying protesters to disrupt her own events too.

“Who knows what Hillary Clinton is going to do. We know from her playbook she’ll do anything she can to be the President of the United States,” Collins said.

 

Western New York Congressman Says Potential Democrat Attacks on Trump Hypocritical

A day after Western New York Republican Chris Collins became the first sitting congressional representative to back Donald Trump for President, he took things a step further. During an appearance on CNN, Collins forcefully defended the GOP frontrunner.

When asked by Jake Tapper if past comments that some deem demeaning to women would be used against Trump by Democrats in the general election, Collins was quick to respond.

“I can tell you the republican response is ‘Anyone but Hillary.’ I don’t know that Hillary would even have the audacity to take Donald Trump on his stance with women, given her stance with Monica Lewinsky and her husband and all of the past misdeeds of Bill Clinton. She basically stood by her husband and all of his actions and in fact demonized the very victim of his actions. I don’t think Hillary Clinton would even then be as disingenuous to suggest she’s going to go after Bill,” Collins said.

The former Erie County Executive, a successful businessman himself, isn’t necessarily known to make biting partisan attacks. Collins response may signal Trump’s best argument to unify the GOP if he does win the primary.

“Again, anyone but Hillary,” Collins said.

WNY Congressman Sounds Off On Investigation Involving Former Aide

Western New York Congressman Chris Collins has never been shy about touting the skills of those who work for him or defending them from criticism when he feels it’s necessary.  Wednesday, while announcing his now former Chief of Staff has taken a new job, he offered his take on a well-publicized investigation.

“There’s nothing there and there never was anything there and it should be an embarrassment to the U.S. Attorney that this even happened,” Collins said.

Back in May, state investigators raided the Buffalo condo of former Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Steve Pigeon. Documents and electronics were also taken from the homes of former Buffalo Deputy Mayor Steve Casey and Collins’ longtime aide Chris Grant.

“It was a tragedy to put them through it, the other two individuals as well as their families, but I think it’s very telling those six months after the fact there’s not a peep or anything coming forth to suggest any wrong doing,” said Collins.

Those interviewed as part of the investigation said it centered on the Pigeon-backed political action committee the WNY Progressive Caucus. The PAC funded 2013 challenges to Democratic Party-endorsed candidates in several local races. According to several sources, Casey and Grant partnered to produce political mailers.

Pigeon’s PAC hired them to produce some of these mailers, one of which caught the attention of the Erie County Board of Elections. By phone Wednesday night, Pigeon had no comment. Collins did.

“Call it the political witch-hunt of the Attorney General, calling the press to watch folks show up at someone’s house to take away electronic information and trying to suggest that somehow work wasn’t done when the Buffalo News themselves did all the printing of the direct mail, makes it laughable on its face,” Collins said

As first reported by the Buffalo News, Grant, who was not available for comment Wednesday night, announced he’s taking a position with Axiom Strategies. The company is the largest GOP direct-mail political consulting firm in the country and Collins said they fully vetted Grant and the AG’s investigation before hiring him.

Multiple sources tell Time Warner Cable News they believe the investigation is still open but at least one person familiar with the case said it is odd there’s been no movement. Neither the U.S. Attorney’s office nor the Attorney General’s office had immediate comment Wednesday night.

Buffalo-based U.S. Attorney William Hochul recused himself early on because he’s married to Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul. Sources tell us the case was handled by Hochul’s assistant, J.P. Kennedy.

“I knew all along there was nothing there and it’s not the way law enforcement should conduct themselves, but in New York State we’ve seen overzealous folks trying to get the press (there) before and it happened again and I hope at some point they stand up and admit that everything they did was politically based and inappropriate and apologize to Mr. Grant,” Collins said.

Grant, 34, spent a decade with Collins serving as his chief-of-staff when he was Erie County Executive before assuming the same role when Collins was elected to Congress in 2012.

“I am going to miss him a lot but he is going to be working for the top political consulting firm in the country and I intend to, when needed, to avail myself of his services as client of his,” Collins said.  “So I’m sorry to see him go but I always like to see folks on my staff move up into new positions that recognize their abilities.”

Collins Hopes To Prove Cuomo Administration Wrong On Fracking

Western New York Congressman Chris Collins has made no secret of the fact he’s unhappy with the Cuomo Administration’s stance on hydrofracking.  As the Clarence Republican enters his second term, he’s hoping to use a more prominent role in the 114th Congress to prove the Governor got it wrong.

“Economically New York State needs to be hydrofracking and certainly in the Southern Tier the benefits would be tremendous,” said Collins.

House Speaker John Boehner assigned Collins to the House Energy and Commerce Committee that includes spots on three subcommittees: Health, Communications and Technology, and Oversight and Investigations.

“I want to make sure we have hearings that highlight the safety and the economic impact of hydrofracking around the country, whether it’s in North Dakota or Texas so I can bring facts forward to show that the Governor made the wrong decision,” Collins said.

Following suggestions by fellow GOP Congressman Tom Reed that the federal government could have the authority to overrule the anticipated ban, Collins’ call for hearings could signal a concerted effort to undermine the findings of the state DEC and the Department of Health.

“I’m going to use my role on Energy and Commerce to make sure Western New York has a very active role here in DC,” he said. 

Far removed from the freshman who accidentally showed up at a Democratic Congressional breakfast in 2012, Collins is hoping to take on more of a leadership role in the New York Congressional Delegation.  He’s also offered his help to the NRCC in 2016.

“Typically your first re-elect is your toughest so I’ve already stepped forward to say I would like to use my resources to help our members get re-elected and I’ll just do what I can to make them feel welcome.  I know where I was two years ago, kind of a deer in a headlight drinking out of a fire hydrant,” Collins added.

Collins is now one of eight New York Republicans in the House of Representatives.  That could increase to nine if the GOP can hold on to the seat left vacant by former congressman Michael Grimm.     

 

Langworthy Calls For Ebola Related Travel Ban; Collins Does Not

As calls for a travel ban in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa get louder, many politicians have been cautious about taking a firm stance on the issue.  Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy isn’t one of them.

“I think it’s just common sense.  I mean we need to protect our homeland and I think the first way to do that is to isolate new threats created by this Ebola outbreak,” Langworthy said.

Langworthy’s position is in line with several high profile Republicans but not with a GOP congressional member is in own back yard.

“That (travel ban) would be devastating to everyone in the country, across the world to say don’t travel. There’s also no guarantee that would contain anything necessarily,” said Republican Chris Collins.

The Clarence Republican noted the CDC has set up check-points at five major airports to screen air travelers coming into the U.S. for temperature and any sign of symptoms.

“They’re not foolproof but it is a step. I think it would certainly be premature today to call for a travel ban.  I think what we need to do is keep this in perspective and see what develops over the next few days, next few weeks relative to these nurses and you never take options off the table once we know what we’re dealing with,” Collins added.

Langworthy and Collins have a longstanding relationship in Erie County politics but the chairman says he hasn’t talked to Collins about the issue.

“I think this is common sense and the President needs to follow suit and I trust that same common sense would be shared by our local delegation as well,” said Langworthy.

Collins is not alone, a spokesperson for Southern Tier Republican Tom Reed said Friday the Congressman is not calling for a travel ban rather calling for “precautions with travelers to and from West Africa. Langworthy insisted he was simply expressing his opinion and his message was for the President not the Western New York Congressional Delegation.

“I mean we don’t need another czar, we don’t need another bureaucrat in Washington we need the President to stand up and be a leader,” Langworthy added.

Langworthy Still Not Ready To Endorse Astorino

Just hours after officially entering the Governor’s race, Rob Astorino announced Western New York would be one of his first stops.  Given the extra attention paid to the region by Governor Cuomo, local Republican leaders aren’t surprised.

“It’s important for any candidate for statewide office to travel the state as much as they possibly can.  They need to get in front of people.  He won’t just come here to do a press conference.  He’ll certainly meet with business leaders and people in the community,” said Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy.

Gaining Langworthy’s support seems like a must for any candidate wanting to win the GOP nomination.  Langworthy helped engineer Carl Paladino’s unlikely primary upset out of Buffalo in 2010.

Both Astorino and potential Republican candidate Donald Trump have already appeared at fundraising events for the Erie County Republican Committee.  Langworthy told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen Wednesday he’s still not ready to make an endorsement.

“I’ve said I wouldn’t endorse candidates until they declared their formal candidacy.  Rob now has.  We’ll see if we have one candidate or two candidates,” Langworthy said.

Langworthy has been supportive of Astorino, but, like many Republican County Chairs, he’s waiting to see if Trump is still interested before giving out his coveted endorsement.

“Do we have one have candidate or two candidates that want the endorsement?  We will hear from Donald Trump on Tuesday in Syracuse as to what maybe his plans might be.  I haven’t talked to him in about a week but looking forward to hear what he has to say when he visits Syracuse,” said Langworthy.

Astorino will appear at the ZeptoMetrix Corporation headquarters on Main Street in Buffalo Thursday Afternoon with Republican Congressman, and former Erie County Executive, Chris Collins.  Collins a shareholder in the company, and was not available for comment on Wednesday.

“They have a longstanding relationship back to when they served together as county executives and they have a great appreciation of one another.  So he may very well endorse him.  I do not know if he will or not,” said Langworthy.

No matter who wins the GOP nomination to challenge Governor Cuomo, Langworthy believes the party’s running mate should come from Western New York.  State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s name was mentioned as a possible Lt. Governor candidate Wednesday and Langworthy loved the idea.

“I think they share a lot of common values.  I think she has fought for the same common sense business perspectives that we need in Albany, not just more of the same special interest nonsense.  She would be a great Lieutenant Governor for any Governor,” Langworthy added.

The Erie County Republican Committee has its regional screening meeting April 12.  It’s hoping to vet as many statewide candidates as possible, including gubernatorial candidates.

No matter what happens, Langworthy hopes the party will unite behind one candidate.

Three New York Congressmen Introduce Kids Before Cons Act

The “Kids Before Cons Act.”  It’s the name of a new piece of legislation introduced by three New York Congressmen on Tuesday.

The bill, sponsored by Republicans Chris Collins, Tom Reed, and Chris Gibson, would prohibit the use of federal taxpayer dollars to provide a college education to convicted criminals.  The measure is a response to Governor Cuomo’s proposal to provide free College Education to inmates at 10 state prisons.

“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals using taxpayer dollars is an insult to law abiding citizens all across our state,” Collins said.

All three GOP sponsors said the Governor’s plan sends the wrong message.

“College students in New York leave school with an average of nearly $26,000 in student loans, a huge undertaking for any family,” said Reed.

“We can do better than spend federal taxpayer dollars on the education of convicted criminals when our hardworking New Yorkers need the assistance themselves,” Gibson said.

Collins plans to take action during the House Appropriations process to ensure no funds in any particular bill are used to fund college courses for convicted criminals.  Collins says the “Kids Before Cons Act” does not ban states from using federal dollars to support GED or work training programs in prisons and correctional facilities.

“We must put our college kids before cons,” Collins added.

The Governor’s office provided no immediate response the congressional proposal.

 

Collins Wants To Block Federal Aid For College In Prison Plan

Republican Rep. Chris Collins plans to introduce a bill that would block any federal funds to a Gov. Andrew Cuomo-backed program that will provide college-level courses to state prison inmates.

“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals with New Yorkers’ tax dollars is an insult to law abiding citizens all across our state,” Collins said in a statement. “We hear over and over again from politicians concerned about the growing cost of higher education and the amount of student debt our young people are sacked with after earning their degree. Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”

Cuomo’s plan is aimed at reducing recidivism in the state’s prison system.

It’s not entirely clear how much the plan will cost, but Cuomo’s office points to the $60,000-a-year annual cost of incarceration versus the $5,000-a-year bill to provide a bachelor or associates degree to an inmate.

Collins, however, says the Federal Bureau of Prisons does grant states funding for educational programs in state prisons and correctional facilities.

The bill, which Collins says he’ll introduce in the coming days, would ban states from access to that money for college programs in prisons.

Republicans — mostly state lawmakers and potential candidate for governor Rob Astorino — have blasted Cuomo for proposing the program, which would be located at 10 prisons around the state.

Backers of the plan include state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, as well as members of the Legislature’s black and Hispanic caucus.

Collins, a former Erie County executive who once considered a run for governor himself, last year ruled out a statewide campaign.