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chris collins

October 10, 2019 - 11:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, Nate McMurray.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, running for Congress in NY-27, is calling for Chris Collins, who recently resigned in disgrace after pleading guilty to insider trading and lying to the FBI, to return the Congressional salary he has collected since his indictment in August 2018.

McMurray sent a letter to Judge Vernon S. Broderick asking the judge to consider ordering Collins to return his salary and forfeit his pension as a part of sentencing.

While calling Collins’ case “inherently tragic” and expressing sympathy for Collins’ family and victims, McMurray also pointed out that Collins had profited from his deception of voters in his district and deserved to lose his salary as a result.

“Following his guilty plea last week, Mr. Collins has admitted that his actions were in fact illegal; that he knew they were illegal; and that his claims of innocence were false. With his reelection predicated on an admittedly false claim of innocence, I urge that in sentencing, you recognize this fraud on the taxpayers of this nation and the people of New York’s 27th Congressional District and require him, in addition to whatever other penalties you deem appropriate, to repay his salary from the date of his indictment until his resignation and forfeit his taxpayer-funded pension,” McMurray wrote.

After months of proclaiming his innocence, Collins changed his plea to “guilty” last week and admitted in court that he knew what he was doing was illegal.

A copy of McMurray's letter can be seen below:

Honorable Judge Broderick,

I am writing to you to express my thoughts regarding the sentencing of Chris Collins. 

Last year, I ran and lost a race to replace Mr. Collins in the United States House of Representatives. I am proud of that campaign and our opposition to Mr. Collins. I say this to fully disclose any perceived bias or subjectivity. I share my comments with full sincerity and an understanding of the possible consequences of my words. 

First, I want to acknowledge that much about this case is inherently tragic. A district has been denied its due representation in Congress; an individual of great promise, a fellow Eagle Scout no less, betrayed his constituents and will forever have his name tainted; a son followed his father’s request and now stands on the verge of incarceration and a lifetime defined by a criminal act not of his own creation. I have true sympathy for everyone caught up in Mr. Collins’ web of illegal activity and look forward to our district moving on.

Nevertheless, justice must be served, and Mr. Collins’ actions and character must be examined. Following the indictment in August of 2018, Mr. Collins continually lied to voters by proclaiming his innocence and ultimately won re-election. As a member of Congress, Mr. Collins said he worked for his donors—not the people of Batavia, Hamburg, Canandaigua, Warsaw, or the countless other small towns and communities within New York’s 27th District. Following his guilty plea last week, Mr. Collins has admitted that his actions were in fact illegal; that he knew they were illegal; and that his claims of innocence were false. He knowingly abused the trust of the people of Western New York.

I stand with many who are angered by Mr. Collins’ actions, but I find some discomfort celebrating anyone’s demise, even his. However, with his re-election predicated on an admittedly false claim of innocence, I urge that in sentencing, you recognize this fraud on the taxpayers of this nation and the people of New York’s 27th Congressional District and require him, in addition to whatever other penalties you deem appropriate, to repay his salary from the date of his indictment until his resignation and forfeit his taxpayer-funded pension.

Sincerely, 

Nathan D. McMurray

October 1, 2019 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, crime, news.
lyingchriscollinsaug2018.jpg
    Chris Collins in Buffalo, Aug. 2018

As part of his guilty plea in Federal Court in New York City this afternoon, former Congressman Chris Collins, who resigned his NY-27 seat yesterday, admitted that his actions, in tipping his son to a failed drug trial, were "anything but what a model citizen would take.”

He told the judge, “I regret my actions beyond anything that I could explain today.”

Collins reportedly pled guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements.

The case against Collins began with reporting by Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News, who was curious about the congressman's involvement with Innate Immunotherapeutics and so he began digging into public documents that raised questions about Collins behavior.

At the time, Collins dismissed Zremski's reporting as "fake news" but the stories eventually led to an FBI investigation as well as a House Ethics Committee investigation. 

In August 2018, Collins was indicted on numerous charges stemming from his insider trading activities, most notably, a phone call he made to his son Cameron Christopher Collins from the White House lawn in June 2018 where Collins shared insider information about a failed drug trial.

This led to Cameron Collins allegedly dumping some $800,000 worth of stock as well as suspicious stock trades by people associated with the Collins family.   

Chris Collins, who was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, denied the charges and repeatedly lied to constituents about his innocence, claiming he would be "fully exonerated." He narrowly won reelection in November 2018 while maintaining the fiction that he was innocent. 

Today in Federal Court he admitted to the White House phone call and said that he was "shocked and devastated" by the news of a failed drug trial and informed his son while in an "emotional state."

Outside the courtroom, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Geoffery Berman, a Trump appointee, said:

"Moments ago former New York Congressman Christopher Collins pled guilty to insider trading; and the lying to the FBI in order to cover up his insider trading scheme. Collins admitted to among other things illegally tipping his son while standing on the White House lawn. By virtue of his position, Collins helped write the laws of this country and acted as if the law didn't apply to him.

"This courthouse is a representation personifies to incorporate the ideal of equal justice under law. No one is above the law. That is because of our office's commitment to the pursuit of that ideal that Collins is now a convicted felon and no longer a member of Congress."

Now that Collins is out of office, it will be up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to decide whether to call for a special election or let the sit vacant through 2020.

New York City reporting for this story courtesy WXXI in Rochester.

September 30, 2019 - 5:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, Nate McMurray.

Press release:

Nate McMurray has issued a statement following reports that Rep. Chris Collins will be resigning.

“The real victims of Collins' crimes are the people of his district that he repeatedly lied to about his guilt. Collins and Republican party insiders robbed his constituents of the representation they need on important issues like the rising cost of healthcare, the opioid epidemic, and the fight for good-paying jobs.

"They all failed us, so I’m going to keep talking about the critical issues Western New Yorkers face every day, because that’s what public service should be about, working to make other people’s lives just a little bit better."

September 30, 2019 - 2:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in chris collins, news.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Associated Press at about 1:57 p.m. today reported that Rep. Chris Collins of New York is resigning from Congress ahead of his expected guilty plea on insider trading charges, according to Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi’s office.

UPDATED 2:34 p.m.: A Change of Plea Hearing for Collins is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, in Courtroom 518 before Judge Vernon S. Broderick in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, located in the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse at 40 Centre St. in lower Manhattan. The Change of Plea Hearing was entered on the court docket today.

More T/K.

August 22, 2019 - 12:06pm

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) is pushing the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act (H.R. 4194), bipartisan legislation which designates “9-8-8” as the universal telephone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system.

This system currently operates through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans' Crisis Line. Congressman Collins is an original cosponsor of the legislation in the House.

“When experiencing an emergency, everyone knows to dial 9-1-1, but now those dealing with a mental health crisis will have an easy to remember number that will provide them with the help they need,” Congressman Collins said.

“This legislation is crucial in saving the lives of Americans all over the United States and end the stigma surrounding mental health.”

This legislation authorizes states to collect a fee limited to supporting local crisis centers that are affiliated within the national network area that funds the suicide hotline services similar to that of existing emergency services.

Also this legislation will set a deadline of one year for the FCC to complete the nationwide upgrade to ensure all lines have access to 9-8-8.

August 16, 2019 - 9:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, chris collins, Nate McMurray, politics, video.
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Rep. Chris Collins paid a visit Thursday to the Child Advocacy Center in Batavia (more on that later) and after his visit we spoke with him about his campaign plans and his criminal case.

August 10, 2019 - 3:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, chris collins, video.
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Today, Nate McMurray, who narrowly lost to Chris Collins in the NY-27 congressional race in 2018, formally announced he will seek the office in 2020.

One of the first things did after finalizing his decision to run was call The Batavian and ask for an interview, so we met this afternoon at The Coffee Press.

McMurray said that while other Republicans have said they are mounting a primary challenge to Collins, Collins is the front-runner and there is no reason to believe Collins won't be on the general election ballot in November. Collins, McMurray said, is the person he's running against.

"I think a lot of people always assume he's going to give up or go away, but he's proven that he doesn't go away easily," McMurray said. "I think that he needs to hold onto this seat to maintain his freedom. It's the best leverage point he has in his trial (on Federal insider trading charges). I think until he's gone you have to assume he's the candidate."

Collins has to go, McMurray said, because with Federal charges pending and a congressional ethics investigation that is still open, Collins is unable to effectively represent the people of the 27th District.

In 2018, McMurray opposed efforts to impeach Donald Trump. Since the release of the Mueller Report, he's changed his position. He said he realizes this stand may cost him votes in this district.

"Anyone who respects the rule of law and reads (the report), as I've read it, you'll come away very troubled," said McMurray, who is an attorney. "You'll come away thinking that Congress and the Senate have a duty to act. They really shouldn't be playing politics with this. It's too important.

"And I think that whether you support President Trump or not, if read that report, you're going to see a portrait of a man who tried to obstruct justice, who tried to manipulate the law, and who thought he was above the law."

August 7, 2019 - 1:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, kathy hochul, video.
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Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says she has no interest in running for Congress again, not even after redistricting in 2022 because she thinks she is having a more positive impact for the people of Western New York in Albany than she could have in Washington, D.C.

Hochul represented WNY in Congress in 2011 and 2012 before losing a close election to Rep. Chris Collins.

She did say, however, if she ran this year, she would win.

Collins, fighting a federal criminal indictment and facing a House Ethics Committee investigation, has made no official announcement regarding his reelection plans. But he has transferred $500,000 of personal funds to his campaign. He is facing at least two primary challengers and if he runs the Democrats may send Nate McMurray up against him again, who narrowly lost to Collins in 2018.  

Regardless of who runs against Collins, Hochul said Collins will soon be known as "the former congressman" because "he will lose the election."

Hochul was in Batavia for the announcement of a new workforce development program. We will have more coverage on that later.

July 16, 2019 - 11:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, immigration, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins introduced The Red Light Act, his new legislation that withholds federal highway funds from any state that grants driver licenses or identification cards to illegal aliens present in the United States.

Congressman Collins' legislation comes on the heels of Governor Andrew Cuomo recent signing of the Green Light Bill into law last month. This new state law grants driver's license privileges to illegal immigrants.

“Once again, Governor Cuomo has put his socialist agenda ahead of the safety of American citizens,” said Congressman Collins. “Governor Cuomo should be enforcing laws that protect Americans instead of supporting those who break our laws. Citizens should feel safe behind the wheel, but now in New York, there will be a strong likelihood that illegals could be driving uninsured and unregistered vehicles wreaking havoc on our roads.”

"Cuomo has threatened the lives of New Yorkers who are legal U.S. citizens with this legislation,” added Collins. "If he wants to help illegal immigrants avoid the law while threatening highway safety, he can pay for it.”

If enacted, the Collins’ legislation would withhold funds beginning in the fiscal year 2020 and each fiscal year thereafter. Any funds withheld from noncompliant states will be appropriated to states that do not allow illegal immigrants to have a driver's license or identification cards.

July 10, 2019 - 5:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

End Citizens United (ECU) today named Rep. Chris Collins (NY-27) to the Big Money 20, the group’s top targets to defeat in 2020. ECU’s Big Money 20 campaign is focused on defeating incumbents who benefit most from the corrupt establishment in Washington by showing voters how politicians like Rep. Collins put corporate special interest donors ahead of the people they’re supposed to represent. 

“Chris Collins is one of the most corrupt members of Congress and has committed several federal crimes,” said End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller. “Not only has Collins taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in special interest money, but he has betrayed the trust of his district by using his Congressional seat to give big breaks to the pharmaceutical companies in which he has personally invested millions.

"Meanwhile, New Yorkers with preexisting conditions are seeing their coverage threatened and drug prices skyrocket. Chris Collins is watching out for his bank account and his Big Pharma donors, not New Yorkers. End Citizens United and our members look forward to defeating Chris Collins in 2020.” 

The Big Money 20 aims to educate voters about incumbents who represent the worst of Washington and rally support for reforming the political system. The members of the Big Money 20 are incumbents who take money from corporate special interests, mega-donors, and industries like Big Pharma and Big Oil and then put those interests ahead of their constituents. 

Collins and his son owned approximately one-fifth of an Australian pharmaceutical company called Innate Immunotherapeutics. Collins convinced five other GOP lawmakers to invest in the company — all while pushing legislation aimed at helping the company succeed. When the company’s one drug failed a clinical trial, Collins breached confidentiality and informed his son who tipped off several other Innate investors and sold millions of shares.

In August 2018, Collins was arrested and charged with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements after lying to the FBI in an attempt to cover up his crimes. But this corruption was nothing new. Collins has been called “Big Pharma’s biggest supporter in Congress.”

He abused the power of his office in order to boost Innate and his other Big Pharma donors, which have given him more than $72,000 by crusading for provisions that would save Innate millions of dollars and make it easier for them to be granted FDA status.

Collins also voted for the GOP tax bill which gave billions in tax giveaways to corporations and admitted to a reporter that his mega-donors were saying to get the bill passed or “don’t ever call [them] again.” 

In the 2018 cycle, End Citizens United helped defeat 82 percent of the Big Money 20 targets. ECU will connect its more than 550,000 members to endorsed candidates who are challenging Big Money 20 targets.

ECU has conducted extensive polling and research showing that voters across the political spectrum support getting big money out of politics. ECU is a traditional political action committee (PAC) with more than four million members, including 6,300 in New York’s 27th Congressional District.

ECU raised $44 million in the 2018 last cycle and helped elect more than 150 members to the 116th Congress, including two new U.S. senators and 58 new U.S. representatives. The reform group is entirely grassroots-funded with an average donation of just $14.

NOTE: We asked spokesman Sayed Bawadden about End Citizens United, and specifically if they also listed Democratic office holders, and he responded: "We're a Democratic PAC focused on campaign finance reform, so we only target Republicans."

Also, according to campaign finance disclosures, Collins has raised only $5,000 for the 2020 campaign.

June 27, 2019 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, news, Medal of Honor, chris collins, NY-27.
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On Monday, Rep. Chris Collins gave a short floor speech in the U.S. House of Representatives recognizing and honoring David Bellavia on receiving the Medal of Honor. The Batavian asked for and received a video copy of the speech to share with our readers.

Also, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who once represented our area in Congress and knows David as a result, issued the following statement on Twitter

All of New York is proud of the courageous actions of WNY native Staff Sgt. David Bellavia while under fire.

 

His actions saved lives and his Medal of Honor is well deserved.

June 20, 2019 - 6:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Health Care, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) introduced legislation which provides a financial solution for uninsured Americans seeking medical procedures by hospitals.

The Protect the Uninsured Act of 2019 would amend Title XI of the Social Security Act to require hospitals and critical access hospitals to offer the uninsured individual access to the lowest negotiated price for any service or procedure.

“Hospitals are supposed to take care of everyone, the uninsured are often saddled with debt far beyond what they can pay while others are receiving steep discounts for the same procedures,” Collins said. “People are putting their health at risk by avoiding important procedures due to inflated costs while hospitals are writing off uncollected debts as charity work."

Hospitals negotiate discounts with insurance companies to determine costs of procedures or services they are willing to accept. This negotiated discount is subtracted from an inflated total cost of a procedure or service, the individual then pays a copay while the insurance company covers the remaining expenses.

Under current law, an uninsured patient is forced to cover the full cost of the procedure with no discounts, leading to uninsured patients mounting debt or avoiding necessary care.

This legislation will provide financial relief to those who are uninsured by allowing the individual to receive the lowest discount negotiated with an insurance company for a procedure or service by a hospital.

May 18, 2019 - 1:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

One thing Rep. Chris Collins told The Batavian before the 2018 campaign season is that the one thing he appreciated about The Batavian is that we may ask him tough questions but we always reported his views accurately.

Then after he was indicted on insider trading charges he refused to talk to us. That was baffling given his previous praise of our reporting. On Friday, we asked him about his decision to avoid almost all media coverage in 2018. He said that was a campaign strategy but that things would be different if he runs in 2020.

We should trust him on that promise, he said.

"I am not hiding from anyone," Collins said. "I'm talking to you today. Am I not answering every question you're asking? For two months I was running a very difficult election with a strategy to win and my strategy was correct."

Once it was clear in 2018  that Collins was cutting off access to The BatavianThe Batavian publicly announced that it wouldn't run his campaign press releases unless and until he agreed to an interview.

The response?

Crickets.

"For those two months you weren't part of my strategy," Collins said. "And I won or I wouldn't be here talking with you today."

Now, we're supposed to trust Collins.

Collins was indicted by the Federal prosecutors on a bevy of charges related to an alleged insider trading conspiracy on Aug. 9 and refused that day to take any questions from The Batavian and refused subsequent requests for interviews. The charges stemmed from his alleged tip to his son Cameron that a critical drug trial by a company he had pumped, Innate Therapeutics, had failed.

The target of Collins' ire, he said, however, wasn't The Batavian. It was the Buffalo News.

"I am out and about talking to you today and I've said I always will," Collins said. "Last year was a unique year with the Buffalo News being my primary opponent with a lot of fake news, a lot of biased news; a lot of distorted news. So I did make a decision, I wanted to win the election and I won the election and now I'm talking to you today. I'll talk to you wherever I am."

Pressed for examples of "fake news" from the Buffalo News, Collins said almost everything the paper reported about his relationship with Innate Therapeutics was inaccurate; that his work on the 21st Centuries Cure Act was falsely reported; that his attempts to get drugs to market quicker were misrepresented, as well as his attempts to get more dollars diverted to cancer research.

"They reported that was all to benefit a company I was invested in," Collins said. "It was absurd. They reported that Tom Price and I got special pricing on a stock, which was also totally not true, and was so reported by the Office of Congressional Ethics. They reported these things time and again. I don't want to get into a litany but primarily if you read a Buffalo News story, the bias just pours out."

He said the Buffalo News has been reporting about him inaccurately for 12 years, going back to his stint as Erie County Chief Executive.

The one representative The Batavian knew to reach out to directly to seek comment from about Buffalo News reporting on Chris Collins was political reporter Jerry Zremski who said in an email, "We stand by our stories."

Collins supports Donald Trump. Donald Trump has admitted that he has redefined the phrase "fake news" to mean any news report he doesn't like, no matter if it is true. Collins said that is not how Trump uses the term. However, none of this was reassuring to The Batavian that in 2020 he will be any more accessible than he was in 2018.

So, this exchange:

The Batavian: "Can I get a promise that as long as I always report you accurately, I can get an interview with you in the future?"

Chris Collins: "Yes."

So, we'll see if that is "fake news."

See also: Chris Collins says that if he runs he will beat any primary or general election challenger

May 17, 2019 - 11:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

chriscollinsmay16209.jpg

It doesn't matter who runs against him, if Rep. Chris Collins is a candidate in the NY-27 race in 2020, he will win, he said today following a ribbon cutting at Fresenius Kidney Care on Veterans Memorial Drive.

He will win in a primary. He will win in a general election.

He will win, he said, because he has more money. He will win because the folks of the 27th District will believe he's done a good job for them. He will win because he supports President Donald Trump.

"My accomplishments and my effectiveness speak for themselves," Collins said. "And if somebody wants to pretend otherwise, he'll have to better explain that."

Collins is unperturbed by the close call he suffered in 2018 beating challenger Nate McMurray by less than 2,000 votes, nor is he ruffled about his criminal indictment on alleged insider trading charges, nor an ongoing Congressional ethics investigation. 

"If I do decide to run, I'm confident I will win a primary if there is a primary," Collins said. "I'm also confident in a presidential year with my past support of President Trump, which is well known, with my seven, then eight, years of service in the community, I'm confident I would be reelected.

"While the last election was closer than I might have wanted it to be, that was a terrible year for Republicans. It was not a presidential year and I had an opponent who did not fully disclose where he stood on the issues. Next year, any Democrat that's running is going to have to run with the Democrat platform and the Democrat platform will be socialism replacing a free market."

Today, news reports said that state Senator Chris Jacobs plans to run a primary campaign against Collins if he decides to run and Sen. Rob Ortt told The Batavian in an exclusive interview that if he runs, he will also mount a primary challenge to Collins if Collins runs.

Collins said today that he remains undecided on whether to seek reelection.

"I have not made up my mind," Collins said. "I've said it would be later this year when my legal situation is better known, so I'm not saying yes and I'm not saying no. We'll make that decision later this year."

On potential opponents, Collins concentrated his fire on the one seemingly for-certain candidate, Chris Jacobs.

"If there's anyone who doesn't fit the profile it would be Chris Jacobs," Collins said. "You know, he is, I think, the second most liberal Republican in the state Senate. He's a Never Trumper, he is pro-abortion, and I would say that his resume does not suit New York 27."

Besides Ortt, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Iraq War veteran David Bellavia both told The Batavian today that they are considering runs for the NY-27.

Collins said he isn't afraid of a primary fight, and the more the merrier.

"If you're gonna be in a primary you want it to be 10 people if you're the incumbent," Collins said. "So again, that's not going to make my decision for me. I'm confident I would win a primary if I decide to run and they decide to run against me in a primary, much like happened in 2012. I have confidence that my résumé, of what I've accomplished for this district."

In Jacobs' campaign announcement -- reportedly, since he didn't include all media in the NY-27 (apparently, Genesee County doesn't matter) -- Jacobs said Collins has been ineffective. Collins, of course, disagrees.

"Interesting that he brought that up the same day that Jane Corwin was confirmed as the new chairperson of the International Joint Water Commission," Collins said.

Collins also took credit for the appointments from Michigan and Nevada, the Army Corps of Engineers' approval of a project at Athol Springs, the appointment of a new U.S. Marshall, and he also mentioned his new legislation to help dairy farmers with immigration labor.

"That's all within the past week," Collins said.

In GOP circles, there is some speculation that Collins won't get the GOP endorsement in 2020 even if he decides to run. Again, Collins isn't worried.

"I would hope to get it," Collins said. "But if you recall in 2012 I didn't and I won the primary pretty handily."

Collins also suggested he will outspend any potential opponent. His latest fundraising reports have shown pretty dismal reports, however. He said that's by design. He didn't directly address whether he would self-fund his campaign, but he suggested he will do better at fundraising from this point forward.

"I have not attempted to raise funds the last four months," Collins said. "I know coming in, off of all the bad publicity that I faced, the Buffalo News and otherwise, we decided we'd sit tight for four months and see how things kind of played themselves out and it's been a very positive reaction in Washington, so we are now going to start doing fundraising."

In the last election, he barely beat challenger Nate McMurray. He is facing legal and ethics proceedings in federal court. Some Republicans think he should step aside to protect the district. The Collins retort: He barely beat McMurray because McMurray wasn't honest about who he really is. 

Collins suggested that McMurray is really a closet socialist because he's a Democrat.  

We pointed out the lengthy profile published by The Batavian on May 17, 2018:

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

"He doesn't tell the truth," Collins said. "He can say anything he wants. Think back to Kathy Hochul and everything she stood for until she became lieutenant governor and then the true Kathy Hochul showed up."

The Democrats, he said, lie and distort about who they really are.

"You know they pander they lie they distort," Collins said. "But ultimately people realize I'm a conservative Republican. I am pro-life. I've served or eight years. With Trump, I'm the first member to support Trump. I was at the White House two days ago.

"I'm as effective as I've ever been or more so if you look at what we've accomplished the last week. So I'll run on my record and challenge anyone else to at least be honest with the public on where they stand."

See also: Chris Collins promises to speak to The Batavian if he runs for reelection

May 17, 2019 - 3:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rob Ortt, chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

 

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If Rep. Chris Collins, dogged by ethics and criminal investigations, decides to run for reelection in 2020, he could face a primary challenge from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Rob Ortt, who visited Reyncrest Farms in Corfu this morning.

"I'm going to make my decision based on my own discussions with my wife, discussions with my family and friends and people I trust, and will do what I think is best for the district," Ortt said. "Obviously, I've got to make the decision that that's right for Rob Ortt, where I think I can serve best to be a voice on issues that matter to me whether it's in the State Senate or in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"So, you know, we'll make that determination on our own timeline. Obviously, probably sooner rather than later, but we're going to make that decision of on our own timeline apart from whatever other people may do."

Other people, of course, includes Collins, who told The Batavian three weeks ago that he has yet to decide whether he would run for reelection.

Collins is facing a Federal court trial on charges stemming from an alleged insider trading conspiracy. Collins, along with co-defendants Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky, is accused of securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to FBI agents.

Besides the criminal case, a House of Representatives Ethics Committee is also looking into his conduct involving his holdings in Innate Therapeutics.

Other people mounting a primary challenge would also include State Sen. Chris Jacobs, who reportedly announced his intention this morning to run against Collins, and Batavia-resident Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Reached by text message this afternoon, Hawley said he is indeed considering challenging Collins, depending on the situation with Collins.

"I'm strongly considering it," Hawley said.

Another Batavia resident, combat veteran David Bellavia is also considered a potential candidate. Bellavia has yet to respond to a text message asking him about his intentions for 2020.

Ortt, himself also a combat veteran, said his decision will come entirely independent of what Collins decides to do.

"He's got to do what he thinks is right," Ortt said. "Again just like me, he will do what he thinks is right for himself, for his family and given his situation, but he also has a responsibility to do what's right for the district.

"If he does not think he can serve this district in an effective way, then I think the right thing would be at some point to make a determination to step aside and let someone else come in."

Collins narrowly beat Nate McMurray in the 2018 election and McMurray seems to be a likely Democratic contender in 2020. We asked Ortt, given a potentially strong Democratic candidate and the legal and ethical issues facing Collins, if Collins should step aside and Ortt said he would never suggest to Collins, or any other potential candidate, that he not run.

"This is America," Ortt said. "There will be a lot of people I imagine that might jump into this race. If (Collins) thinks he can make an effective argument of why he should be retained as the congressman, I would welcome that as much if I was in the race as anything.

"I'm not going to say one person should run or should not run because ultimately the people of the 27th District, particularly Republican voters in a primary, they're going to make that determination about who they think can effectively, not only defend the president's agenda or defend the agenda that's important to this district, but also represent them in a way that they think they'd be proud of."

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: We heard back from David Bellavia. He is considering a run for Congress in the 27th. "Not afraid of primaries," Bellavia said in a text message. "Especially ones involving Rep. Collins and Senator Jacobs."

UPDATE 5:34 p.m.: Statement from Nate McMurray on the possibility of a primary challenge to Collins:

"It's understandable that some would see an opportunity in Collins' legal predicament, but let's not pretend that Collins was an effective leader prior to that. Our grassroots network has been fighting for the people of the 27th Congressional District well before his indictment last August and never stopped.

"I think it's unfortunate that anyone would evaluate running in this district based on personal political gain, or in order to keep it in Republican hands. Hyper-partisanship is the last thing the people of Western New York need right now and the voters here confirmed that last November by reelecting Collins by a mere .37%. The district went purple and people crossed party lines. It shows that business-as-usual will no longer fly. We will continue to prepare for whatever comes next, and look for opportunities to bring people together."

May 16, 2019 - 2:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, agriculture, chris collins, business, dairy.

Press release:

On Wednesday, Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) introduced legislation that would provide a short-term, one-time fix, to help the nonseasonal agriculture workforce.

"The Helping Labor Personnel (HELP) Farms Act" provides a solution for farmers across the nation, especially in the dairy industry, while Congress and the Department of Labor continue to modernize the H-2A program and allow visas be granted on an annual basis instead of seasonally.

“Under current law, the H-2A visa program does not help our struggling dairy farms, who live in constant fear of losing their workforce,” Congressman Collins said. “This legislation provides a temporary solution while Congress and the Department of Labor work together to find a bipartisan solution.”

This legislation requires the Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State and Secretary of Labor, to collect applications for temporary work authorization for nonseasonal agriculture workers. This nonseasonal agriculture workforce must be sponsored by a United States employer who he/she has worked with for at least two years.

Upon approval of the application, the alien worker will be granted work authorization for two years along with his/her spouse and children. Additionally, protections are included for the sponsoring employer to ensure there are no consequences for employing an alien workforce due to an outdated and flawed H-2A visa program.

“There is not a single person representing dairy that does not understand we have a true crisis with the current system we have in place,” Collins added.

An alien worker who currently works in a nonseasonal agriculture occupation may be permitted to apply to this temporary work authorization program so long as they have not been convicted on felony charges of rape, kidnapping violent assault, sexual assault, or suspected of terrorism.

Alien workers who are currently being detained may also be given the opportunity to apply for this program.

A copy of the bill can be found here.

April 14, 2019 - 11:53am

 

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Rep. Chris Collins presented awards Saturday at the Roz Steiner Art Gallery at Genesee Community College to winners of the annual NY-27 Congressional Art Competition. The first-place picture will be hung in the capitol in Washington, D.C., for a year.

2019 Congressional Art Competition Winners:

  • First Place, William Palmer, Batavia High School
  • Second Place, Mya Showalter, Clarence High School
  • Third Place. Haley Dalberth, Livonia High School 
  • Honorable Mentions, Grace Rudolph, Batavia High School, and John Bruggman, Batavia High School 

The competition was judged by Roz Steiner Art Gallery Director Mary Jo Whitman and Associate Professor of Photography & Art Joe Ziolkowski.

collinsgccartcomp2019.jpg

collinsgccartcomp2019-2.jpg

The winning picture by William Palmer, Batavia HS.

April 13, 2019 - 5:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27.

 

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Rep. Chris Collins, NY-27, has not made an announced public appearance in Genesee County since he was indicted on federal insider trading charges in August so we have not been given an opportunity to ask him about those charges. On the day he was arrested he called a press conference but then refused to take any questions.

Today we asked him about the charges. He declined to address the charges.

We also asked him about his plans for the 2020 campaign. He said his decision to run is contingent on the status of the federal case and will be made in consultation with his family.

Collins did deny, during the interview, that he hasn't made a public appearance in Genesee County since August but all of the examples he gave were of private events and gatherings.

Collins was in town for the annual Congressional Art Competition awards announcement at Genesee Community College. We will have further coverage of that event later (perhaps not until tomorrow since I had to go out and cover a fire and still haven't started putting production on that video).

April 9, 2019 - 4:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) reintroduced legislation that prevents states from diverting fees collected from consumers on their phone bills, which are meant to be used to improve 9-1-1 emergency communications systems. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has found that New York diverts at least 41 percent of 9-1-1 fees that are collected for non-public safety related purposes. Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) co-lead on the bill has also seen 9-1-1 fee diversion in California.
 
“It is completely unacceptable that states, like New York, continue to rob our emergency response systems of important and necessary resources by diverting funds,” Collins said. “Diverting these fees puts lives in danger, especially in rural areas. I thank Congresswoman Eshoo for her support once again of this legislation and her commitment to making sure all communities across the nation can achieve the highest level of safety.”  
 
“State and local governments charge citizens 9-1-1 fees on their phone bills to support emergency services, but some states divert this revenue to other government projects unrelated to improving public safety,” Eshoo said. “In fact, nearly $285 million in 9-1-1 fees collected by states were diverted for non-9-1-1 purposes in 2017, taking away valuable resources from already strapped public safety budgets. This bipartisan legislation directs the FCC to crack down on this practice to ensure taxpayer dollars collected for emergency services are actually invested in emergency services.”
 
Passage of this bill will direct 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 them to divert fees.
 
Last April, Collins toured the Niagara County 9-1-1 call center with FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly where they called on the state of New York to stop diverting fees. Unfortunately, fee diversion continues in New York, California and other states around the country.

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