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chris collins

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.

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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.

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."

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