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chris collins

March 4, 2019 - 11:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in office for the aging, news, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release: 

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced $40,000 in federal funding for the Genesee County Office for the Aging.

This grant was awarded through the Senior Corps RSVP from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a program that leverages the skills and experience of seniors from across the country to serve in a variety of volunteering activities.

The Senior Corps RSVP is one of the largest volunteering networks in the nation that engages Americans 55 or older in citizen service to address problems that our country faces. These services can range from fighting the opioid epidemic, connecting veterans to jobs and benefits, and ensuring seniors age dependently and with dignity.  

“ As we get older it is important we keep ourselves active,” Congressman Collins said. “The Senior Corps program is a great way to get involved in our community while helping others.”

The Genesee County Office for the Aging offers a variety of programs and services to all county residents who are the age of 60 and over. Their mission is to provide information, support, and advocacy to their residents while promoting independence to improve the quality of life.

The Senior Corps engages approximately 220,000 Americans at 25,000 locations across the nation through its Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion and RSVP programs.

February 17, 2019 - 3:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced the application period for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program FY18.

Administered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the SAFER Grant Program is designed to help local fire departments and Emergency Management Service (EMS) providers to increase or maintain the number of trained, “frontline” firefighters available in their communities.

“The SAFER Grant Program provides funding assistance to our local fire departments and EMS providers in order to help recruit new members and ensure that current members are up to date on their training,” Congressman Collins said. “I encourage all NY-27 fire departments and EMS providers to apply for this program.”

FEMA will accept applications from eligible departments now through 5 p.m. Friday, March 22.

Interested applicants with further questions or those seeking letters of support from Congressman Chris Collins are asked to call his Geneseo District Office at (585)-519-4002.

February 8, 2019 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in SAFE Act, news, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release:

By reintroducing the Second Amendment Guarantee Act (SAGA), Congressman Collins continues his effort to protect the Second Amendment rights of all New Yorkers by limiting a state's authority when it comes to regulating rifles and shotguns.

The Collins’ bill would prevent states from implementing any regulations on weapons that are more restrictive than what is required by federal law. Passage of this bill would void most of the language included in New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013 signed into law by Governor Cuomo.

“Governor Cuomo unjustly took away the Second Amendment rights from law-abiding New Yorkers with his so-called SAFE Act,” said Collins. “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 Cuomo SAFE Act violates federal regulations because it imposed rifle and shotgun bans that possess certain features. It also banned the capacity of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and limiting magazines to seven rounds at any time.

Any current or future laws enacted by a state that exceeds federal law for rifles and shotguns would be voided under the Collins' legislation. Should a state violate this law and a plaintiff goes to court, the court will award the prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney’s fee in addition to any other damages.

February 6, 2019 - 10:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release: 

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) tonight released the following statement regarding the State of the Union address.

“Tonight, President Trump called on all lawmakers to work together and to choose greatness. Under President Trump’s leadership, we have passed monumental tax and criminal justice reforms. Our economy is flourishing and American families have more money in their pockets, but we still have work to do.

While President Trump is fighting for fair trade and the American worker, it is time for Congress to come together to strengthen our borders and fix our broken immigration system. Together, we can accomplish a greater America.”

January 25, 2019 - 4:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement:

“Congratulations to President Trump for having the courage to act by opening the federal government. Now it’s time for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to put aside petty politics and work with the President to put an end to the crisis at our southern border.

"The fact is we cannot continue to sustain ourselves as a nation without having real boarders borders and real immigration reform. The only way for this crisis to be resolved will be for all parties to engage in substantive negotiations over the next few weeks and reach a consensus on border security.”

January 24, 2019 - 3:50pm

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today announced $2,800,426 in federal funding for the Community Action of Orleans and Genesee Inc. The grant was awarded through the Head Start Projects Program from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which promotes school readiness of children under 5  from low-income families.
 
The Head Start program supports children in growth and development through a variety of services depending on the needs of the local community. Their programs are based in centers and schools, but also in child care centers and family care homes. Children gain access to early learning for school readiness, healthcare needs, and family well-being.
 
“Children are our future and this program ensures that the children of low-income families can get a jumpstart on their education before kindergarten,” Congressman Collins said. “This funding solidifies this program in our community for years to come.”
 
The Community Action of Orleans and Genesee is a nonprofit organization that has served Western New York for more than 40 years. This organization empowers and provides an opportunity for those who are not yet self-sufficient. They work with programs, like Head Start, to provide short and long term goals for children and their parents in the community.
 
The Head Start program has serviced more than a million children in every U.S. state and territory and continues to support 1,700 public and private nonprofit and for-profit agencies that provide Head Start services.

January 9, 2019 - 12:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Today Congressman Chis Collins (NY-27) formally requested that his paychecks be withheld during the partial government shutdown. Along with withholding his pay, Collins has cosponsored legislation that will ensure that the federal employees who keep our communities and nation safe are paid for their service as shutdown negotiations continue.
 
“I believe it’s unfair for me to receive pay while the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep our country safe are seeing their paychecks delayed,” Collins said. “I’ve requested that my paychecks be withheld until essential federal employees, like our Border Patrol and TSA agents who work to protect the safety and security of American citizens, are fully compensated for their duties during this partial government shutdown.”
 
The Providing Pay For Essential Employees Act, introduced by Congressman Bob Gibbs, (OH-07), and cosponsored by Collins, directs the Treasury Department to appropriate funds to cover the salaries and any expenses of any officer or employee of the federal government physically working during the partial government shutdown beginning on or about Dec. 22, 2018.
 
Collins added: “It’s time for partisan Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to quit using hardworking Americans as pawns as they stonewall efforts to secure the border and reopen our government. Protecting American citizens should be a top priority, and it is my hope that Congress and President Trump can work together to find a bipartisan solution that effectively secures our borders and reopens the federal government in a timely manner.”

December 20, 2018 - 9:16am
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release: 

Today Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) again called on New York State's Governor, Andrew Cuomo to stop diverting fees collected for 9-1-1 services. The Federal Communication Commission's annual report shows that New York State continues to divert nearly 42 percent of fees collected from consumers on their phone bills -- which are meant to be used to improve 9-1-1 emergency communications systems -- to the Governor's slush fund.

Earlier this year, Congressman Collins introduced the 911 Fee Integrity Act, that prevents states from diverting fees collected for 9-1-1 services. Collins' bill directs the FCC, in consultation with public safety organizations, and state, local and tribal governments, to determine the appropriate use of funds collected from consumers.

Currently, states are able to set their own definition of what is a covered cost for 9-1-1 fees, which has allowed states such as New York to divert fees into a general fund.

"It is completely unacceptable that New York State continues to divert funds meant to improve 9-1-1 emergency services, to Governor Cuomo's corrupt and shady slush fund," Collins said.

"These fees should be used to make important and necessary improvements to emergency response systems -- doing otherwise is inappropriate and puts New York residents at risk.

"We must prioritize the safety of our communities and improving these services is absolutely essential to keeping our residents safe. I remain committed to pushing the Governor to end this deceptive practice."

The FCC's annual report identifies six states and one territory as diverting 9-1-1 fees for other uses last year: Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. New York also tops the list with one of the highest 9-1-1 fess at $1.20 per line.

"When Americans pay 9-1-1 fees on their phone bills, they rightfully expect that money to fund 9-1-1-related services," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in the FCC's release. "Unfortunately, the FCC's annual report shows that, once again, several states have siphoned 9-1-1 funding for unrelated purposes.

"This is outrageous and it undermines public safety. But there is also some good news: Thanks to Commissioner O'Rielly's efforts to shine a light on the issue of 9-1-1 fee diversion, as well as the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau's ongoing work, this is the first time that every jurisdiction has responded to the FCC's annual 9-11- fee survey.

"Hopefully, drawing attention in this way to the unacceptable practice of 9-1-1 fee diversion will help end it."

The FCC is required by law to submit an annual report to Congress on the states' collection and distribution of 9-1-1 fees. The FCC's latest state 9-1-1 fee report, as well as reports from prior years, are available here. The agency also issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the findings in the new report.

December 13, 2018 - 9:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in farm bill, agriculture, NY-27, chris collins, business.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) celebrated the passage of H.R 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. H.R. 2, which includes critically important dairy policy reforms that will strengthen and grow the Western New York dairy economy that in recent years has faced significant challenges.
 
H.R. 2 provides greater coverage to dairy farmers through the Margin Protection Program (MPP), and will allow farmers to participate in both the livestock and dairy protection programs. Additionally, the program will be rebranded as the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program.
 
"I am extremely proud to see the 2018 Farm Bill make it to President Trump's desk," Collins said. “For too long, dairy farmers in Western New York have struggled to keep the agricultural industry alive because of inefficiencies in past programs and the overall decline in the dairy market. The reforms passed in H.R. 2 will provide a significant boost to farmers right here in Western New York by allowing them to better utilize this program.”
 
This legislation will also help strengthen trade enforcement, promote the research and development of specialty crops, ensure funding to help farmers locate new global markets, significantly increase investment in organic research, and offers cost-sharing assistance to help farmers transition into organics.
 
Collins added: “The agriculture industry is the backbone of New York’s 27th district. Protecting Western New York farmers will always be a priority of mine, and I’m committed to doing what is best to help them succeed. While we still have a lot of work to do to turn this industry around, H.R. 2 is a huge step in the right direction, and I’m pleased to see it pass today.”

Also, a press release from the New York Farm Bureau:

Today’s final vote for the 2018 Farm Bill is a major victory for New York’s farmers, rural communities and consumers. Farmers needed stronger risk management tools in place moving into next year where there are signs that the economic stress will continue in the farming community.

In particular, the new Farm Bill enhances the dairy safety net for farms of every size, including increasing the margin that qualifies for federal insurance programs. New York Farm Bureau also appreciates the research and support programs in the bill that will benefit New York’s specialty crop producers. Having some certainty moving forward in challenging times is a relief for farmers.

In addition, the Farm Bill supports critical conservation programs, rural development projects, and marketing and research programs to expand market opportunities for farmers. It legalizes industrial hemp, which will benefit farms interested in diversification. And the legislation provides permanent funding to help veterans and a new generation of beginning farmers. The biggest portion of the Farm Bill also guarantees Americans, who can least afford to eat, the ability to access the food farmers produce.

New York Farm Bureau is appreciative of New York’s lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives who supported the Farm Bill during this long process, resulting in the bipartisan legislation that their constituents expect. We encourage the President to sign the Farm Bill.”

November 30, 2018 - 4:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) praised President Trump and his administration for officially signing a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

USMCA will make significant changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that will put the United States on more equal footing with the other nations. Specifically with regard to the dairy industry, Canada’s pricing program has created an unfair playing field and has essentially eliminated U.S. exports of certain dairy products, harming Western New York’s dairy industry.

“President Trump promised better trade deals and he has delivered replacing NAFTA which has caused our region to hemorrhage good paying manufacturing jobs for some time now,” Collins said. “Not only will this new treaty help with manufacturing, but it protects American farmers from burdensome tariffs and regulations.”

Collins has led the fight to end Canada’s unfair Class 7 pricing program, which has severely impacted New York dairy farmers. Under USMCA, Canada has agreed to eliminate this program in order to level the playing field between the United States and Canada while allowing our dairy producers the ability to expand sales overseas.

“With this barrier being struck down, Western New York dairy farmers are now able to compete fairly in Canada, and I thank the president for working to ensure NY-27 farmers are treated fairly,” Collins said.

Outside of the dairy industry, the new trade agreement will increase the production of American goods and services. The agreement requires that 75 percent of auto content be produced in North America and makes critical reforms that will boost auto workers’ wages. Additionally, the USMCA includes strong labor provisions that prioritize and protect American manufacturing jobs.

Furthermore, the agreement provides strong protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. This includes 10 years of data protection for biologic drugs and a large scope of products eligible for protection. These reforms are critical to driving innovation, creating economic growth, and supporting American jobs.

Collins added: “By signing the USMCA, President Trump has fulfilled yet another campaign promise for the American people. Our country has been rightfully restored to a leader on the world stage, and I will continue to work with the White House and Republicans in Congress to uphold and advance the Make America Great Again agenda.”

November 21, 2018 - 2:01pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, Nate McMurray, notify.

Two weeks after election day, with most of the outstanding ballots in the NY-27 counted, challenger Nate McMurray has pulled within 1,384 votes of Rep. Chris Collins but it's unlikely there are enough ballots left to be counted for McMurray to overtake the Federally indicted congressman.

McMurray has not conceded the race, though Collins has declared victory.

In Genesee County, in the count of provisional, military, absentee and emergency ballots, McMurray gained 71 votes on Collins, making the split 11,471 for Collins to 8,705 for McMurray. Third-party candidate Larry Piegza finished with 627 votes.

According to the McMurray campaign, and multiple other news reports, McMurray gained votes in nearly every, if not every, county in the district since election day two weeks ago.

In a statement this afternoon, McMurray thanked his supporters and vowed to continue the fight, claiming potential irregularities. He said he and his attorneys are discussing the situation and will decide what to do after Thanksgiving.

In election law in other states, when the margin separating two candidates is less than 1 percent, an automatic recount is required or a candidate can request a recount. New York law provides no mechanism for requiring a recount.

"We have seen extensive irregularities in the voting process, especially pertaining to absentee ballots, and there are issues that need to be addressed, not only for this election but for all elections in the future to ensure voters are not disenfranchised and that every voice is heard," McMurray said.

The Collins campaign has not sent a statement about the outcome of the election to The Batavian.

In Genesee County, the recount is a bipartisan affair, overseen by Richard Siebert for the Republicans and Lorie Longhany for the Democrats, with observers from both parties watching the entire process, from ballots being opened to votes being tabulated.

In Erie County, which is where McMurray picked up most of his additional votes to close the gap, which was 2,241 votes districtwide when Erie County started its vote count yesterday morning, Republican Commissioner Ralph M. Mohr told the Buffalo News the process there is similar to the process locally.

From the Buffalo News:

The Tuesday process began around 10 a.m. in a stark room at the Board of Elections on West Eagle Street. Officials first ran through a scanner the emergency ballots that somehow were jammed or encountered other problems in the machines on Election Day.

Then Mohr explained the process by which a bipartisan team from the board would open the ballots and prepare them for machine scanning. Officials lined up approximately 16 workers at carefully staged positions on both sides of a long table, with Democrats observing Republicans and vice versa.

“We have here a bipartisan team,” Mohr explained to a crowd of campaign observers and reporters, asking Democrats and Republicans assigned to the counting table to raise their hands.

Erie County officials counted 5,588 absentee ballots, 1,454 affidavit ballots, and 433 emergency ballots, with McMurray picking up 3,279 votes and Collins 2,422.  There are more ballots to count but McMurray would need nearly all of the remaining his ballots to go his way in order to pull out a victory and that is statistically improbable.

Collins is expected to be sworn in for his fourth term in January even though he faces an ongoing investigation by the House Ethics Committee, will be in the minority party, serve on committees, and awaits a Federal trial on charges that he exchanged in securities fraud, wire fraud, and lied to the FBI about his role in an alleged scheme to illegally use corporate insider information to assist family and friends in dumping stock they owned in Innate Therapeutics. Collins served as a member of the board of directors of the Austrailian biotech company.

He was also once the company's second-largest shareholder but in a recent disclosure by the company, Collins isn't even listed among the top 20 shareholders.

At one time, Collins reportedly held 3.8 million shares of the company's stock.  

By law, members of Congress must disclose their stock trades within 30 days of the transaction.

On June 20, Collins sold between $15,000 and $50,000 shares of stock (as specific as he's required to be on the disclosure form).

On that date, Innate was trading at 28 cents a share.  If he sold $50,000 worth of shares, he sold less than 180,000 shares. It's unclear when and how he disposed of his other outstanding shares (which would have been enough to keep in the top 20 shareholders of Innate if he retained the shares).

In a news report about the stock disclosure, his campaign spokeswoman called these facts "fake news."

Collins is expected to go on trial for his insider trading charges in February 2020. He vows to beat the charges and continue to serve in Congress.

November 15, 2018 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray has issued the following statement after Congressional Republicans, apparently at the request of indicted Chris Collins, blocked McMurray from attending the New Member Orientation today.

"It is customary for candidates in close races to attend New Member Orientations so that they are best prepared to serve in the event that they win. After traveling to Washington to train alongside my peers, including others in contested races, I was informed that Rep. Gregg Harper, chairman of the Committee on House Administration, had personally denied my participation even after House Democratic leadership continued to advocate on my behalf.

"I am very disappointed by Congressional Republicans catering to Chris Collins’ demands, who is under indictment on 11 felony counts and spent his campaign lying and hiding from his constituents. I came to D.C. to equip myself to hit the ground running and better serve the people of Western New York once the results are official.

"It is shameful that Collins is continuing his efforts to diminish the will of the voters and call this race before all votes have been counted. As usual, he is actively undermining the future of this district and our country. I am grateful to Democrats from the House Administration Committee for having me at the Democratic events during the orientation and offering to come to the district to provide me and my team with all of the training, support and information we will need when we win.”

November 7, 2018 - 5:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray has issued the following statement on yesterday’s too-close-to-call results in his campaign for US Congress in NY-27.

“When we started this race, the insiders and pundits said we didn’t have a chance. But we gave the voters a better choice, and by earning support from Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike, we’re beating the odds and we won’t stop until the official results are confirmed. We need to make sure every voice and every vote in this region is heard and counted.

“This isn’t even yet a recount. We haven't even had an official count yet. In our democracy, every single vote matters. There are over 18,000 votes that have not yet been counted, between absentee, emergency, and affidavit ballots. If this were Election Day, we would still be holding tight. We will continue to count each and every ballot to ensure every voter in this district is heard.

“With only 2,800 votes separating us, this race is too close to call. There are too many voters who have not yet had their say. We are fighting to make sure every vote is counted because every vote counts.

“I believe that the hardworking families of this district are ready to reject the stale and ineffective tactics of partisanship politics, put country before party, and turn the page from Chris Collins’ self-serving chapter in our region’s history. We must finish counting ballots so we can finally get to work to make Washington and fixing a rigged system that both Republicans and Democrats agree is hopelessly broken.

“That starts with me, a Democrat, talking to you, my voters who are Republicans and Democrats and independents, about what we can do to solve the real problems our nation faces. We need to create secure borders, not with grandstanding and rhetoric, but with real immigration reforms that protect our sovereignty, but also makes sure our farmers have the workforce they need to succeed. It means protecting Social Security and Medicare, so Americans get the benefits they’ve been paying for their entire lives.

"It means defending the Second Amendment while passing common-sense reforms like universal background checks to keep guns away from terrorists and criminals. It means bringing good jobs back to our region, investing in infrastructure and protecting our farmers. It means standing strong against corruption in both parties to give taxpayers honest leadership they can trust.

“This isn’t over yet. We’re still fighting like hell."

November 7, 2018 - 12:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in election, NY-27, batavia, news, notify, chris collins, Nate McMurray.

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As Nate McMurray appeared on TV just after 11 o'clock tonight, a couple of local Democrats at Center Street Smoke House for election night noticed McMurray didn't look happy.

The room turned glum.

"Don't concede, Nate," one of them said.

That's was what McMurray was about to do.

With 94 percent of the precincts reporting in the New York 27th Congressional District, Rep. Chris Collins held at 2,697 vote lead, a 49.5 to 48.4 percent margin.

In Genesee County, Collins won with 2,837 more votes, 53.8 percent to 39.91 percent, or 10,986 votes to 8,149.

These are unofficial vote totals, not yet certified and do not include absentee ballots.

Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza picked up 598 votes locally, or 2.93 percent, which was fewer votes than the 651 ballot line for the 27th blank.

McMurray did beat Collins in the City of Batavia, 2,219 votes to 1,821.

The NY-27 is a 22-point Republican advantage and McMurray, a Democrat who is town supervisor in Grand Island, still managed to make it a close race, primarily because Collins has spent much of the past year under the cloud of an ethics investigation and was arrested Aug. 8 on federal charges related to alleged insider trading. 

Also in Genesee County, the controversial ballot measure to stagger and extend terms in office members of the County Legislature passed 9,508 votes to 8,981.

In contested races, Barbara Czworka won the Town of Bethany Highway Superintendent election over Michael T. Adams, 440 votes to 289 votes. For Town of Alexander Justice, Mark Anderson beat Nicholas Falcone 775 to 757. (CORRECTION: This was a vote-for-two election. Anderson and Falcone both ran unopposed, not against each other.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not fare well among Genesee County voters, getting only 4,982 votes to 13,397 for Marc Molinaro. Larry Sharpe received 1,201 votes locally. Howie Hawkins got 252 and Stephanie Minor, 188.

UPDATE 12:28 a.m.: McMurray issued the following statement:

"While tonight's results are disheartening, my fight for a better Western New York and a better United States will not end. This is my home, and I believe we deserve better than a Congressman under indictment and out on bail, but I also respect the will of the voters, and they have spoken. This campaign was a part of a movement to fight for the rights and leadership that we deserve as Americans. Tonight’s result is a setback, but we will never give up.”

UPDATE 12:53 a.m.: McMurray just issued a new statement demanding a recount:

"After examining the numbers, the margin is 1 percent and the will of the voters must be heard. We are demanding a recount. Mr. Collins is going to need another set of lawyers.”

We'll have more election coverage sometime tomorrow.

Top photo: Democrats watch Nate McMurray's concession speech at Center Street.

November 6, 2018 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, election, notify.

For the first time -- as far as we know -- Rep. Chris Collins made his first appearance in Genesee County since his arrest Aug. 8, stopping by a polling location in Oakfield to drop off donuts.

Dick Siebert, the Republican election commissioner, said he spoke with a Democratic poll monitor at the poll in Oakfield and Collins did not campaign while at the location, did not carry any campaign material and did not wear anything that would identify him as Chris Collins.

"He spoke to one or two of the inspectors," Siebert said. "From what I understand he just wished them a good day. He had no campaign button or anything on that would identify him as Chris Collins. He did no campaigning with any of the people standing in line to vote."

Collins is running for reelection after being charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI. His top rival is Nate McMurray, town supervisor of Grand Island.

The turnout is reportedly good at Genesee County polling locations, on par with a presidential-year election, according to Lorie Longhany, the Democratic election commissioner. 

"We just heard from another polling location and they are using the word, 'busy,' " Longhany said. "My guess is, a more robust turnout for a midterm, which is what is being reported nationally."

Our news partner, WBTA, contributed to this story.

November 5, 2018 - 7:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) today released the following statement urging local schools to participate in this year’s “Holiday Mail for the Troops” Program.

“I am proud to once again invite all elementary age students in New York’s 27th District to create holiday cards for our troops,” Congressman Collins said. “The holiday season is fast approaching and many of our brave service men and women will not be able enjoy it at home with their families.

"Nothing can replace being with loved ones and friends during the holidays, but together we can brighten this holiday season for our troops.”

With your help, we will distribute holiday cards to the brave men and women at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to show our appreciation for their service.

Participants are asked to drop off the holiday cards to either of Congressman Collins’ district offices no later than Dec. 14 to ensure delivery by Christmas.

Lancaster District Office                          Geneseo District Office
2813 Wehrle Drive, Suite 13                            128 Main St.
Williamsville, NY 14221                                   Geneseo, NY 14454
Phone: (716) 634-2324                                     Phone: (585) 519-4002

Please contact Shannon Dougherty at [email protected] if you have any questions about how your school can participate. You can also reach Shannon by phone at 585-815-5286.

November 5, 2018 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray, news, notify.

mcmurrayhortonsnov42018.jpg

In the past three weeks, Rep. Chris Collins has made eight campaign stops, according to his Twitter feed, and none of them have been in Genesee County.

His opponent, Nate McMurray, made eight stops in just two days, including one Sunday morning at Tim Hortons in Batavia.

"I feel we're going to win," McMurray said. "I mean, I had people in Albion and Medina yesterday running up to me or stopping cars because they recognized me. I never had that experience in my life."

Whether McMurray's prediction of victory is confidence or overconfidence, we won't know until late Tuesday night but McMurray said he also feels the weight of the world when he thinks about winning. He knows it will mean that a lot of Republicans in this bright red district put their faith in him.

"I had Republicans coming up to me saying 'we believe you, do not let me down,' " McMurray said. "I could see they were serious, like, 'we've been let down, don't let me down,' and I'm like 'I'm not lying. This is who I am. I'm going to fight for you and I'm going to learn from you.' And I think honestly, I'm not trying to be glib, but I have learned from the people of this region and I'm humbled by it."

McMurray, who told reporters he's lost 30 pounds since the campaign started, has made an issue of the tribalism and cynicism that has gripped American politics and has vowed to break down those barriers. That, too, will create a responsibility for him if he wins, he said.

"I think a lot of people are so beaten down by politics and they become so pessimistic and just so dismissive of their political leadership," McMurray said. "For whatever reason, they're starting to feel hope in me in this campaign and I feel a great duty towards them, and on both sides of the aisle.

"Obviously, as a Democrat running here, I'm going to have a bigger burden to prove to Republicans that they can trust me and they can vote for me again."

He said he has run his campaign with little to no Democratic party input or influence and very little help, and vowed that if he won he would not buckle to pressure from Democratic leaders to conform to their views of the world.  

The latest polls show the race a toss-up that will come down to the wire. The state just released updated registration numbers for the NY-27 that may put a little wind behind McMurray's sails. The Democrats registered 1,848 voters compared to only 467 for Republicans.

Previously: Profile: Nate McMurray, Democratic capitalist, bucking the trend of his party

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October 31, 2018 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, Nate McMurray.

Press release:

For the second time in the past year, indicted incumbent Chris Collins has ducked high school student who want to hear from their representative. Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party candidate who is challenging Collins in NY-27, condemned Collins for his refusal to engage with high school students and failure to participate in any debates with less than a week before the election.

"It says a lot about a guy if he’s too scared to talk to high school students, and it makes it even worse when it’s his job to listen to the people he represents,” McMurray said. “In the spring, it was Clarence students wanting to talk about gun violence in schools.

Today, it was St. Joe’s students who have proudly hosted debates for the last 30 years. These aren’t political operatives or insiders, they’re young people who will be the future of our country and who just want to have a voice in the discussion.”

In April, Collins declined an invitation to a “Town Hall for Our Lives” hosted by Clarence High School students, calling the students “radical partisans.”

Today, St. Joe’s learned that Collins planned to skip the debate from a local radio broadcast. McMurray attended both events and plans to meet with Clarence High School students on Friday. He will also be at the forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

"It’s typical of millionaires like Collins to look down on voters like us, and he just doesn’t have the backbone or character to talk with students or debate. Eleven felony counts, out on bail and a flight risk, and he just makes himself more of an embarrassment to our community with his cowardice. He’s got one more chance today, and then it’s three strikes and he’s out -- of office!”

October 25, 2018 - 12:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Larry Piegza, news.

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Press release:

Pro-Trump Reform Party candidate Larry Piegza showed up to the Steve Bannon rally in Elma with a cardboard cutout of Chris Collins dressed in a prison jumpsuit.  

"I knew that Collins wasn't going to show his face at the rally, and I wanted people to know exactly how he might be representing our district," Piegza said. "My internal polling shows that Collins has already lost this election.

"The fact is, many people are too moral to vote for someone who has most likely to have broken the law. The only question that remains is if enough people vote for me or if we let the district go to a Democrat."

While police had told Piegza that he must stand with the rest of the protesters, Piegza stated that he doesn't want to be counted as a protester due to the fact that he supports the rest of the Republican ticket.

"I'll be voting down-ballot red this election," Piegza said. "I recommend that others do the same, except obviously for NY -27.  Voters are going to have to make a choice on whether they want to vote for a potential criminal in Chris Collins or for an ethical Republican. 

You can find out more about Piegza's campaign at FixItLarry.org or hear about him at the upcoming debate at Saint Joe's Collegiate Institute on Oct. 30th or at the League of Women Voters Candidates Forum on Oct. 30th at the Aurora Senior Citizens Center in East Aurora.

October 17, 2018 - 10:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

Rep. Chris Collins says he will clear his good name when his insider trading case goes to trial in February 2020.

But to do that he may need to convince a jury that he didn't tell his son about a failed medical trial for a new drug developed by Innate Immunotherapeutics when Collins called him from the White House lawn June 22, according to an attorney who specializes in insider trading law.

Robert Heim is a former Securities Exchange Commission attorney who now works as a private defense attorney for those accused of violating securities laws.

"Perhaps Mr. Collins might argue that somehow the information was either public or had been leaked out, but on its face, it seems like a very difficult case for him to beat right now," Heim said.

Neither Collins nor his attorneys have shared what his defense might be, but as Heim acknowledged, prosecutors have a lot of evidence related to the number and timing of phone calls, text messages, and trades, which is why Collins will need to offer a convincing explanation for the June 22 phone call.

On June 22, at 6:55 p.m, Collins received an email from Innate's CEO, Simon Wilkinson, informing Collins, who was among the company's largest shareholders and a member of Innate's board of directors, that a critical trial for a new multiple sclerosis drug had failed.

"I have bad news to report," Wilkinson wrote, according to government documents. "The top line analysis of the 'intent to treat' patient population (i.e., every subject who was successfully enrolled in the study) would pretty clearly indicate 'clinical failure.' "

Innate was a single-product company and the trial's failure meant it would not bring that drug to market.

Collins responded at 7:10 p.m., according to prosecutors, "Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???"

According to prosecutors, Collins immediately attempted to contact his son, Cameron Collins. He called Cameron twice. Cameron called back three times. Chris Collins called him back. On their seventh attempt to connect, at 7:16 p.m., father and son finally spoke with each other.

Chris and Cameron spoke for six minutes and eight seconds.

There was no wiretap on the phone call, and prosecutors have not indicated that they have any direct knowledge of what Collins told his son.

Prosecutors will attempt to prove Collins told Cameron of the failed MIS416 trial, disclosing nonpublic information, knowing it was a breach of his duties and anticipating his son would trade on the information and tip others.

Heim said Collins will need to convince a jury that he discussed with Cameron something other than the MIS416 trial, be it the weather, or "wow, I'm at the White House," wedding plans, or some other topic that seemed urgent at the time.

"I've worked on insider trading cases like this for about 20 years now and almost always these are circumstantial cases," Heim said. "People rarely come in and admit to committing insider trading, so a jury is going to really have to look at the various facts in terms of timing the phone calls, the timing of trades, and people's explanations to really come up with a decision as to what's more likely: Was this inside information discussed? Or were they talking about other things and this just happens to be very poor coincidental timing?"

If the failed drug trial was a topic of the June 22 phone call, Heim indicated Collins is going to have a hard time proving his innocence, especially in a Second Circuit court. The Second Circuit, he said, has a "loose standard" on what constitute's "tipper liability."

"If you're passing on information, the inside information, to a family member that satisfies what's called the 'personal benefit test' that is required to be proven for the government to win an insider trading case," Heim said.

Chris and Cameron Collins, along with 66-year-old Stephen Zarsky, father of Cameron's girlfriend, Lauren, are charged with in Federal Court with conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to FBI agents.

Lauren and her mother, Dorothy have already settled with the SEC.

The morning after receiving his father's call, according to the SEC complaint, Cameron started to act on the allegedly non-public information, including selling stock and tipping the Zarsky family.

If Chris Collins can successfully argue that he didn't tell his son about the non-public information, then Cameron may need to prove he obtained it from another source.

It's not illegal to buy or sell stocks on "insider information" if it was legally obtained. For example, if Cameron overheard his father or somebody else talking about the failed trial with a person who was authorized to share the information, he can do as he pleases with the information.

Barry Switzer, former University of Oklahoma football coach, was at a track meet in 1981 when he overheard a company CEO discussing his firm's plans. The next day, Switzer and his friends acted on the non-public information and eventually made $600,000 on the trade. Switzer was charged with insider trading, but a court ruled in Switzer's favor.

"The court said that that's not illegal as long as you're not breaching some sort of duty or someone's not telling you the information in violation of a confidentiality agreement," Heim said. "That a legitimate defense."

Cameron's case hinges entirely, it seems, on how he knew to dump his 1.4 million shares of Innate stock just before news of the failed trial went public.

"In order for that chain to be legally actionable it has to have as the source a breach of a fiduciary duty or some other duty that's owed to the company and its shareholders," Heim said. "And that Cameron received that information separately, not from his father but by perhaps overhearing a conversation. Then if he's successful in that argument then, yes, he's free to tell other people about that information and essentially tip them because he did not breach his duty in the first instance by acquiring that information."

Besides the record of phone calls, texts, and trades, the prosecution may have other evidence that  is not yet publicly disclosed, Heim said. We also don't know how Lauren and Dorothy Zarsky, or others, might cooperate with the prosecution. There could have admissible information that supports the prosecution's theory that Chris Collins tipped Cameron Collins.

Witness testimony gets complicated, Heim said, because of trial rules involving hearsay and spousal privilege but there could be supporting witness testimony that is used at trial.

Without wiretaps, Heim said, "this could come down to a he-said-she-said type of scenario."

Based on the evidence made public so far, Heim said it seems like the government has a pretty solid case.

"It looks like there was a very thorough investigation, Heim said. "They put together the best evidence they could into a circumstantial case. Now I think really falls on Mr. Collins to come forward with some explanation or evidence as to what other topics were discussed in the calls and why they were being made at that particular time."

Photo: File photo.

NOTE: The Batavian has requested multiple of times an interview with Rep. Chris Collins. He has not agreed to an interview so we have been unable to ask him questions related to his insider trading case or even questions relevant to his bid for reelection.

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