Chris Collins

State Senator Chris Jacobs Is Running For New York’s 27th Congressional Seat

Republican state Senator Chris Jacobs is running for New York’s 27th Congressional District in 2020.

His congressional campaign manager confirmed a Buffalo News report Thursday morning. The seat is currently held by Republican Chris Collins, who is facing federal insider trading charges.

“It’s very important to put someone in that seat who is a strong advocate for the district,” Jacobs told the News. “Currently, I don’t believe he has the capacity to be effective because of the situation.”

Jacobs indicated he would primary Collins if necessary. The incumbent, whose trial is scheduled for February 2020, has said he has not decided yet whether he’ll run again.

In 2018, following the indictment, he briefly suspended his campaign and Republicans in the district were scouting a replacement. Jacobs was one of a stable of potential Republicans in consideration.

Ultimately, Collins unsuspended his campaign, at the advice of his attorneys and the disappointment of GOP leadership. He beat Democrat Nate McMurray by less than half a percentage point in the fall.

McMurray has not officially announced he will run again either, although he vowed a rematch of Collins is the candidate and is already fundraising.

Morelle-Collins Arguments Has Shades Of Slaughter-Collins Feud

From the Morning Memo:

New York’s 25th and 27th Congressional Districts may neighbor each other geographically, but its representatives have not always been neighborly to each other.

The late Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter regularly went after Republican Rep. Chris Collins on various matters of policy, and also led the calls for investigation into his insider trading, for which he is currently facing federal charges.

The Republican, never afraid to return fire, once called his colleague “a despicable human being.” The rivalry never really cooled before Slaughter passed away in March 2018.

Roughly five months later, Collins was indicted. As he continues to fight the charges lodged against him, his appearances on both national and local news have become far less prevalent, and his political future remains an open question.

However, Tuesday, there were shades of the old relations between NY-25 and NY-27 after Slaughter’s successor, former Assemblyman Joe Morelle, called for the Trump administration to withdraw a U.S. Marshal nominee recommended by Collins, though the Democrat did appear to try to tread more lightly than his predecessor likely would have.

“I say this advisedly, but this nomination was advanced by Congressman Collins, who was under indictment on federal felony charges, and I think while he’s going through his legal challenges he ought to stand down and not make recommendations about law enforcement personnel while he’s under federal indictment. I’m not trying to be… I’m just trying to basically call the balls and strikes here,” Morelle said.

Collins’ office was not amused, defending the nomination and calling Morelle’s opinion “simply irrelevant.”

“No one should take legal and ethics advice from Rep. Joe Morelle – who defended Sheldon Silver after his corruption arrest and ignored the story of a rape victim in order to advance his political career,” Collins spokesperson Jennifer Brown said.

Brown is talking about rape allegations made by former Democratic staffer Elizabeth Crothers in 2001 against the state Assembly Democrats chief counsel at the time, Michael Boxley.

Morelle then said he didn’t believe Crothers, but Boxley eventually pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with a different staffer two years later.

Morelle has since apologized for the comments and even invited Crothers to be his State of the Union guest this year.

Morelle Calls On Trump To Withdraw Nomination For U.S. Marshal

Rep. Joe Morelle, D-NY-25, is calling for President Donald to withdraw his nominee for U.S. Marshal in the Western District of New York.

The Buffalo News reported over the weekend, Trump had nominated former Erie County Central Police Services Commissioner Peter Vito for the post. Vito currently owns a private investigation service in Buffalo.

Morelle said it is a long-standing tradition the Western District U.S. attorney hails from Buffalo while the marshal comes from his district in Rochester. He called Vito’s nomination a slap in the face to Monroe County residents.

The congressman also criticized the president for nominating an ally of Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27. Vito served as Central Police Services Commissioner when Collins was Erie County Executive.

“Selecting someone for a law enforcement position based on a recommendation from an indicted Representative facing federal felony charges is an insult,” Morelle said.

Collins is currently awaiting trial on insider trading charges. He has made several appointment recommendations to the president, including attorney John Sinatra for a federal judgeship and former Republican Assemblywoman Jane Corwin to chair the International Joint Commission, but neither have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate yet.

Collins: Don’t Read Into Missed Vote For Slaughter Post Office

Earlier this week, members of Congress voted overwhelmingly to name a post office after the late-Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and her husband Bob Slaughter.

The Democrat served three decades in the House and died early last year while still in office. Only seven Republicans voted against the measure.

However, Congressman Chris Collins, who represents the neighboring New York district, did not vote. The two members were also very critical of each other, with Slaughter leading calls for investigations into the Republicans stock dealings.

Collins is currently facing federal charges related to insider trading.

“Louise and I were not exactly on the best of term,” he said.

But the congressman said he did not actively avoid the vote. Collins said he didn’t know it was happening and had a conflict that afternoon so he couldn’t be on the floor.

“We haven’t been voting on substantive issues,” he said. “So I had a conflict and it turns out it was the post office. It was supposed to be another one that didn’t occur but I wouldn’t read into anything other.”

In fact, Collins said he thought Congress had already passed legislation to rename the post office last year. He said he is still not sure how he would have voted.

“I would not have voted no,” he said. “Whether I would have voted present or not, I’m not sure.”

Rep. Collins Still Debating 2020 Reelection Bid

Western New York Republican Chris Collins, facing federal insider trading charges, very narrowly won his congressional reelection bid, last fall.
When all the votes were tallied, Collins ended up beating his Democratic challenger, Nate McMurray, by less than half a percentage point in the mid-term race. McMurray has continued to be active on social media and in the community and has maintained the appearance of someone who plans on challenging the congressman again.

He half-confirmed his intentions Friday on Twitter, tweeting that if Collins runs again, he will too.

The Republican incumbent has not confirmed he will run for what would be his 5th term. Friday, he made it sound like the decision is still very much up in the air.

“I’m debating that,” he said. “We’ll debate within my family and you know, I’ve been there eight years and so that will be a decision for early next year, one that I’m not locked in on right now.”

Collins does not believe the close result in 2018 would be a reason not to run. In fact, he pointed out he received more votes than any other Republican candidate in New York and more than some members of House GOP leadership.

He said he would expect the total to be even higher for a presidential election year in a district in which President Donald Trump remains popular.

“140,000 people, probably in the nastiest election that there’s ever been, said they wanted me to come back as their member, so I would say that I’m in a pretty good spot,” he said. “Clearly, anyone that voted for me last time’s gonna do it again.”

Collins said if he runs, McMurray would be his “dream candidate to run against.” He said the Democrat is a far-left candidate who has moved even further left since last year.

The congressman noted the status of his ongoing federal litigation will weigh into his ultimate decision.

Collins Reintroduces Legislation To Roll Back SAFE Act

From the Morning Memo:

While the New York State Legislature continues to tighten gun laws, Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, is trying again to role back the state’s Secure Ammunition’s and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act Of 2013 at the federal level.

Collins reintroduced his Second Amendment Guarantee Act this week. SAGA would limit a state’s authority to regulate rifles and shotguns.

States would not be allowed to impose regulations more restrictive than those already imposed by Congress. The legislation, first introduced by Collins in July 2017, is in direct response to New York’s wide-reaching package of gun laws.

“Governor Cuomo unjustly took away the Second Amendment rights from law abiding New Yorkers with his so-called SAFE Act,” Collins said. “I have and always will be a  strong supporter of the Second Amendment and my legislation will guarantee that New Yorkers have the rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution.”

The congressman said in stipulating rifles and shotguns have (or don’t have) certain features the SAFE Act violates federal regulations. If passed, SAGA would void state laws in violation and allow courts to award plaintiffs damages from those states.

However, even with a Republican-controlled House, the bill stalled last session after being referred to a subcommittee. Collins faces more obstacles this year.

Democrats have since won back Congress. Even the lawmakers GOP colleagues could potentially be squeamish about passing a bill of which he’s the primary sponsor while he awaits trial on federal insider trading charges.

Collins Calls Higgins A Liar

Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, has not been shy about talking about the double standard he believes the media has when reporting on him versus his Democratic colleagues, specifically fellow Congressman Brian Higgins.

Collins has argued Higgins didn not get the same criticism as him for not debating his opponent this past election. That’s perhaps a false equivalency considering Higgins race was not as competitive as Collins’ nor was his opponent as aggressive in calling for a debate.

But the Republican is now pointing to another instance where he believes his neighboring congressman got a pass. Last month, Higgins said he would support Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker, backtracking on his previous public position.
“I’d put it differently,” Collins said. “I would just say liar, liar, pants on fire and that’s how you should report it.”

Higgins said he was being pragmatic, with no viable option to replace the longtime Democratic leader. In exchange for his vote, he said Pelosi promised to bring two legislative priorities, an infrastructure bill and a Medicare buy-in plan, to the floor.

Collins called the so-called bargaining chip a “joke” because neither then Senate nor the president will support either plan.

“To say he’s now going to get a bill on the House floor that has zero chance of being passed mean he will have accomplished nothing other than he lied from Day One,” he said.

The congressman contrasted Higgins about-face, with downstate Democrat Kathleen Rice who maintained her opposition to Pelosi even as it became clear she had the requisite votes.

Rep. Collins: No Committee Assignment ‘Doesn’t Mean Much Now’

Congressman Chris Collins, R-NY-27, will not serve on the influential Energy and Commerce Committee when the new session starts next year.

House Speaker Paul Ryan stripped Collins of the committee assignment after federal prosecutors charged him with crimes related to insider trading. The congressman won reelection this fall but is still scheduled to stand trial in February 2020.

He had held out hope new Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, a friend of Collins, would allow him to return to Energy and Commerce. However, last month House Republicans voted to approve new rules barring members from facing federal charges from serving on committees.

In the past, Collins has said he hoped his work on the committee would be his legacy in Congress.

“While I would have preferred to stay on the committee, the fact that it’s now Republicans in the minority, it doesn’t mean much now,” he said Monday.

Collins said the legislation coming out of Energy and Commerce will be Democratic, regardless of whether he was participating in the process. He pointed out he still has his vote on the floor and will pay close attention to the bills coming from all 21 committees.

“Frankly, what I’m going to do is get more involved in the caucuses that I’m involved in and that I chair, especially relative to the Great Lakes, Energy Storage, the Toy Caucus with Mattel – there’s a lot of issues there with China – and certainly the Scout Caucus,” he said.

The congressman said he is still in good standing with his party and has actually gained significant seniority in the House thanks to turnover this year. Collins said he’s recruiting new members from the freshman class to join the bipartisan caucuses.

Hochul Calls For Patience In NY-27 Race

From the Morning Memo:

The campaign for Rep. Chris Collins has called his Democratic opponent Nate McMurray’s refusal to concede the NY-27 race a desperate and futile exercise.

In fact, it has repeatedly pointed to the 2012 election in which then-incumbent Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul, facing a similar vote deficit to Collins, did concede without delay.

Now-LG Kathy Hochul, however, seemed to have no issue with McMurray’s decision to wait until every ballot is counted.

“We can be patient,” she said. “No one gets sworn in as the next Congress person until January and let this process play out. It’s only fair to all the people who took the effort and the time to stand in line, often times, to get the absentee ballot.”

Hochul endorsed McMurray and campaigned vigorously on his behalf. She was asked yesterday if she was disappointed voters may have elected Collins despite the fact he faces a federal insider trading trial in 2020.

“I’m not going to question why voters do what they do,” Hochul said. “It is certainly their prerogative and that is what’s so great about America.”

“I certainly am surprised because I think this district really deserves to have someone who’s not going to be spending most of their time defending allegations of a federal crime that was committed in a very public way, literally on the White House lawn.”

The lieutenant governor was referring to video and photos of Collins on the phone at roughly the same time, the indictment alleged, he learned of privileged information about an Australian pharmaceutical company for which he owned stock, and apparently sharing that information with his son. The congressman has repeatedly called the charges meritless and said he believes he will be exonerated.

Rep. Collins Believes Mueller Probe Almost Over

From the Morning Memo:

His Democratic opponent may not yet have conceded the election, but Republican Rep. Chris Collins is already preparing for his fourth term in Congress.

Aside from his ongoing federal insider trading case, Collins will face another new challenge come January. Democrats will control the House with the party’s total gains somewhere around 30 seats and potentially rising, and he’ll find himself in the minority – assuming his lead holds.

The shift in power, along with a change in attorney general this week, has sparked speculation about the future of the Robert Mueller special investigation into Russian collusion during the 2016 presidential election. Collins, however, believes Mueller is nearly done anyway, if he hasn’t already finished.

“I think it’s concluded,” he said. “My own guess is he did not want to impact the mid-term elections.”

The congressman does not believe his Republican colleagues will pressure Mueller to release his reports while they still have control of the House, nor does he think Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker should make that decision.

“I believe we will let Mueller make it on his own,” Collins said. “That’s what I would support, because I’m confident there is no, was no collusion. Let’s let this play out and I think all indicators are it will be done before the first of the year.”

As for what Democrats might do with the report, Collins said that’s up to them. He pointed out House Democratic leaders like Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi have already threatened new investigatory efforts.

But he warned if Dems overplay their hand, they risk losing their new members in 2020 and giving the president more ammunition for his own re-election campaign.