Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

chris collins

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.

localdemsnov62018.jpg

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

mcmurrayhortonsnov42018-2.jpg

mcmurrayhortonsnov42018-3.jpg

mcmurrayhortonsnov42018-4.jpg

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.

great_white.jpg

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.

October 16, 2018 - 12:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify, Nate McMurray, Larry Piegza.

A poll released today by Siena gives Rep. Chris Collins a mere 3-percentage-point lead over challenger Nate McMurray in the NY-27 congressional race.

Three percentage points are within the margin of error -- plus or minus 4.7 percent -- making the race a statistical dead heat. 

This matches the results of an internal poll released by McMurray's campaign last week that showed the race tracking as a tie with three weeks left until Election Day.

In response to the release of the poll, McMurray issued the following statement:

“This poll tells us what we already know, that voters are choosing country over party. They’re motivated based on who will help families like theirs rather than simply voting along partisan lines. We always knew this would be a close race, and this poll shows that it’s neck and neck. But our TV ads went on the air yesterday, after this poll was conducted; our grassroots support is strong, and as more voters tune in to the race and learn that they have a real choice, we’re more and more confident.”

The Batavian emailed Natalie Baldassarre, campaign manager for Collins, and asked for a statement from Collins -- not her -- about the poll, his third-quarter fundraising report, which includes a campaign expenditure for the use of a private jet. We have not received a response.

Political reporter Ryan Whalan with Capitol Tonight in Albany said in a tweet this morning that he has made several requests to Collins for an interview and has been rebuffed. Since his arrest on federal charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI, Collins has largely avoided contact with the media or answering tough questions.

His only campaign appearances have been at invite-only Republican events. After The Batavian was unable to secure an interview with Collins, we announced we would stop publishing his campaign press releases until he sits down for an interview with The Batavian. The deadline for the interview is this Friday and Collins has yet to agree to an interview.

The Siena Poll results released doesn't break out how Collins is doing vs. McMurray in Genesee County, but it does say McMurray is leading in Erie County 46 to 45 percent. Collins is leading in the rest of the 27th District 46 to 42 percent.

Reform Party Candidate Larry Piegza is favored by 1 percent of the voters.

While Collins has a narrow lead in the race, the indicted congressman has a much higher unfavorable rating than McMurray, 49 to 21 percent. 

In most congressional races throughout the country, women are trending toward supporting the Democratic candidate but not in the NY-27. Collins is supported by 46 percent of the women polled compared to 42 percent for McMurray.

McMurray also seems to be bucking the trend of Democrats picking up younger voters. In the under 55 demographic, Collins leads 49 to 42 percent. McMurray is fairing better with older voters, where Collins' margin is a mere 2 percentage points,  45 to 43.

McMurray leads the race among nonpartisan voters 46-45 percent.

Siena surveyed 490 likely voters in the district between Oct. 6 and 11.

President Donald Trump's approval rating is 56 percent among voters in the district, much higher than his 42 percent approval rating nationally.

Fifty-six percent of those polled want to see the Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, since his arrest, Collins has seen donations to his campaign fall off a cliff, according to the Buffalo News.

Collins, who reportedly had more than $1 million in his war chest before his arrest, raised $32,755.74 in the third quarter, and only $2,955 was donated to his campaign after his arrest.

All but $80 of the money donated to Collins in the last round came from residents of the 27th District.

In the quarter, Collins spent $233,369 on advertising, $40,147.33 in legal fees and a $7,895 on a charter flight.

Members of Congress must justify travel expenses as a legitimate campaign activity to spend campaign funds on travel, according to House Rules.

Baldassarre told the Buffalo News that the chartered plane was used to return Collins to Buffalo after his arrest in New York City on Aug. 8. Collins was hours late to a press conference he scheduled and congressional staff at the time (the event was staffed by government employees, not campaign employees) told members of the media that his flight had been delayed. Though Collins called a press conference, he refused to take questions after issuing a statement.

October 15, 2018 - 4:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party Congressional candidate in NY-27, released the following statement in response to fundraising figures released by his opponent, Chris Collins who is currently out on bail after being indicted on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI.

“Let me get this straight: Chris Collins sat on the board of a drug company, then conspired to make sure he didn’t lose money when a drug trial failed, then lied about it to the FBI, then decided he’d run for re-election because his lawyers thought it would keep him out of jail and now the only financial support for his campaign comes from pharmaceutical special interests? If it wasn’t so shameless, it would be unbelievable,” McMurray said.

“Who is Chris Collins beholden to? Not the voters, he won’t even meet with them. But his buddies in the pharmaceutical industry? Yes, and he’ll end up in jail because of it. Now we have evidence that he’s using his campaign as a slush fund to pay his attorneys even after he said he wouldn’t.

“Mr. Collins has said that his loyalty is to his donors, but he doesn’t seem to have many of those either. He spent more on fundraising consultants and fundraising events than he’s earned.

“Support is fading, Chris. People see that your campaign gets more desperate by the day. I’m proud that we’ve had thousands of hard-working Americans chipping in through potlucks and picnics to fight the corruption they see in Washington. They know we can do better than a member of Congress out on bail and has been kicked off of every Congressional committee.”

A third-quarter filing with the Federal Election Commission by Collins shows his campaign raised a mere $32,755.74 in the last three months.

Last week, McMurray announced that he raised more than $475,000 in the third quarter, the vast majority of it in the seven weeks following Collins’ indictment. McMurray’s impressive fundraising comes even as he will not accept corporate PAC money.

He was recently endorsed by End Citizens United, a group dedicated to getting Big Money out of politics and fixing the rigged system in Washington so it works for all Americans. McMurray’s full announcement is here.

McMurray's impressive fundraising kicked off a week of good news as a recent poll showed McMurray tied with Chris Collins. And today, McMurray’s advertisements went on the air. Momentum is building for McMurray in NY-27.

October 11, 2018 - 7:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in NY-27, Nate McMurray, news, chris collins.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, Democrat and Working Families Party Congressional candidate in NY-27, today responded to news that his opponent, indicted member of Congress Chris Collins won’t stand trial until 2020. Collins was indicted on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI in August.

“Now it’s official, Chris Collins will be beholden to his defense attorneys for the next year and a half, not the voters, not the hard-working people of Western New York, but his lawyers," McMurray said.

"He won’t just be a part-time, he’ll be a no-time Congressman. This is shocking and truly embarrassing to the people of Western New York. I’m out talking to voters every day and they tell me that they deserve better. They’re right.

“House Speaker Paul Ryan has stripped Collins of all of his committee assignments in Congress. He won’t help the people of this region. He can’t help the people of this region. He never did. There couldn’t be a clearer contrast in this race. He will not let go of his congressional seat until this trial is over, or until the voters take it from him. They will.”

This morning, McMurray stood shoulder-to-shoulder with more than 100 activists and supporters from the labor community who pledged to work to get McMurray elected on Nov. 6. They praised his integrity, work ethic and commitment to the values that help the working men and women of this region.

McMurray was endorsed by New York’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, the last Democrat to win this district and a great champion of Western New York./p>

McMurray'’s rally with working people comes a day after he announced polling that shows a dead heat between himself and Collins. Earlier this week, McMurray’s campaign announced he raised close to a half million dollars in the third quarter with the vast majority of that money coming in the seven weeks following Collins’ indictment – and that total does not include any corporate PAC money.

October 6, 2018 - 7:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

The Batavian has always had a policy of publishing most press releases from elected officials who directly represent us, Assembly, State Senate, U.S. Congress.

During the campaign cycle, we’ve published most verbatim press releases from the candidates for those offices.

It’s also been our practice in the past to interview the candidates in tightly contested races for our congressional seat.

This year, so far, we’ve interviewed Nate McMurray (to be published at a later date) and will interview Larry Piegza.

So far, Rep. Chris Collins has brushed off requests for an interview, never saying no but refusing to commit to a date for an interview.

An interview is a chance to clarify a candidate’s positions on specific policy questions, to probe their errors in logic or counter-factual claims, as well as pin them down on campaign promises. Interviews with the press by politicians and candidates is an important part of our democratic process. It’s how we hold to account and ensure transparency from those who might represent us.

A good example of how this can play out comes from the 2012 contest when the Kathy Hochul campaign used, in our opinion, a Chris Collins quote out of context. We were able to publish the full context of the quote to correct the record.

For The Batavian, in a contested race, interviews, either a sitdown formal interview or along the campaign trail, are also a way to balance out the unfiltered claims politicians make in their press releases.

For that reason, we don’t think it is fair or right to continue publishing press releases from the campaign of Chris Collins without a firm commitment to a sit-down interview.

Chris Collins has told The Batavian many times that he appreciates the fair, factual and challenging questions we have peppered him with in past interviews. He said he considers our coverage of him fair and accurate. He has said he enjoys the challenge of tough questions.

But since his arrest on insider trading charges, he has tended to try and avoid the press, giving only one interview since to a Buffalo TV station, and confining his public appearance to friendly audiences with no prior notice to news outlets.

In my opinion, a person running for Congress should not be able to cloister himself in his office and avoid the accountability of public appearances and interviews.

We will continue to publish as appropriate press releases from the congressional office of Chris Collins but we will not publish campaign press releases until we have a time-certain appointment for an interview with no limitations on questions (and, of course, Collins must keep his appointment with us).

Of course, in the meantime, we will continue to publish campaign press releases from Nate McMurray and Larry Piegza since they're playing by the rules.

October 1, 2018 - 2:04pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) praised President Trump and his administration for reaching a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada to be called the U.S.-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.

“Today’s announcement is proof that House Republicans under President Trump’s leadership are getting our nation back on track and standing up for American interests,” Collins said. “President Trump has stood with Western New York’s dairy farmers to protect this industry and make sure American farmers are being treated fairly. The USMCA is a big win for Western New York and I applaud the President’s hard work.”

Collins has fought to end Canada’s unfair Class 7 pricing program, which has severely impacted New York dairy farmers. Under the 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.

Outside of the dairy industry, this 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 autoworkers’ 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: “President Trump is fulfilling his campaign promises and Republicans in Congress are eager to keep working with the White House to Make America Great Again.”

Press release from Sen. Charles Schumer:

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today released the following statement regarding the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico:

“As someone who voted against NAFTA and opposed it for many years, I knew it needed fixing. The president deserves praise for taking large steps to improve it. However, any final agreement must be judged on how it benefits and protects middle-class families and the working people in our country.

“Two areas where I particularly want to see the details are dairy, where our dairy farmers are being taken advantage of by Canada, and real enforcement of labor provisions. The labor provisions are good, but too often they are written into trade bills and never enforced.

“If a final agreement is signed by all three countries, I also look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to write ‘implementing legislation’ to ensure the deal actually achieves these goals.”

October 1, 2018 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, Nate McMurray, news, NY-27.

Press release:

Yesterday on ABC News, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said if Democrats regain control of the House, the House Judiciary Committee would have to investigate Brett Kavanaugh if he's confirmed to the Supreme Court.

"We are looking forward to seeing where our self-admitted progressive opponent Nate McMurray stands on this issue," said Collins campaign spokeswoman Natalie Baldassarre. "Both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the FBI have done everything in their power to investigate these allegations, and so far both have come up with nothing.

"Now, Nancy Pelosi and her radical cohorts are desperately attempting to hijack this seat. The voters of NY-27 deserve to know if Nate McMurray agrees with the far-left cries to impeach Brett Kavanaugh."

Rep. Nadler, who would likely chair the House Judiciary Committee if Democrats regain control, said lawmakers "would have to investigate any credible allegations ... of perjury and other things that haven't been properly looked into before." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has even floated the idea of impeaching Kavanaugh if he is confirmed.

"If the FBI doesn't find any corroborating evidence against Brett Kavanaugh, the vast majority of Americans agree that he should be confirmed to the Supreme Court," Baldassarre added. "At the very least, Nate McMurray should let the voters of NY-27 know if he plans to stand in the way of that happening."

September 22, 2018 - 8:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray.

Rep. Chris Collins, under federal indictment on charges of securities fraud, has kicked off his resurgent campaign with an ad attacking Democratic candidate Nate McMurray for supposedly having something to do with a free trade agreement with Korea, which Collins falsely claims has cost the United States 95,000 jobs.

In 2010, South Korea and the United States entered a free trade agreement commonly known as KORUS. 

Collins is apparently getting his statistic from a 2016 report by the union-backed Economic Policy Institute, which has a record of calculating job loss estimates solely on a balance-of-trade figure. 

Such a calculation ignores the increase in exports, the lower costs of imports, the jobs created from increased trade, and an assumption that the imports would have been made in the United States if not for the trade agreement. It is not a survey of how many actual workers, if any, were terminated after the trade deal.

Scott Lincicome, an international trade expert with the conservative Cato Institute, has written a couple of times about EPI's flawed methodology. 

EPI used the same methodology to make false claims about jobs lost to China. 

Writing about a similar report in 2012, Lincicome said:

I really shouldn't give the "study" an iota of bandwith, but because it will undoubtedly be mentioned by ignorant journalists or opportunistic politicians looking to respectively score a few cheap page views or scare a few unwitting voters, here's all you need to read:

  • My 2010 blog post dismantling of EPI and its study (including boatloads of links from myriad scholars decrying EPI's asinine "trade deficit = job losses" methodology); and
  • Today's quick dismissal of the EPI report by the U.S.-China Business Council.

The claim of 95,000 jobs lost is also contradicted by steady economic growth in the United States since 2010, including 95 straight months of job growth. Since 2010, the U.S. economy has added more than 18 million jobs.

According to a U.S. Trade Representative report from 2015, KORUS had increased U.S. exports to Korea by nearly $25 billion annually to that point. 

"U.S. auto exports to Korea increased by 208 percent by value between 2011 and 2015," the report states, "more than 14 times faster than the increase of U.S. auto exports to the world (up 14 percent), thanks to Korea’s 50-percent tariff reduction (from 8 percent to 4 percent) when KORUS entered into force."

In 2016, the USTR reported that total, two-way trade with Korea had increased to $144.6 billion, with $63.8 billion in exports and $80.8 billion in imports.

A trade deficit does not translate into job losses, however. It means Americans are buying more because of greater availability or lower prices. It doesn't mean those products would have been made in the United States.

The Batavian tried to contact the communications director for the Collins campaign this morning and got no response. We reached out to Chris Grant, who works for the campaign, and he referred us to a statement Collins issued to the Buffalo News.

This is a real video of Nate McMurray that he removed from social media because he didn’t want to defend his efforts to promote a Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement that shipped nearly 100,000 U.S. jobs overseas. Nate McMurray needs a new video to explain why he opposes President Trump's policies that are protecting American jobs and American workers. Hopefully, he’ll leave that video up.

Via text message, The Batavian pointed out to Grant that the statement didn't address Collins's false claim about the number of jobs lost and we got no response.

Collins made his claim as part of a campaign commercial (see video above) that attacks McMurray's past employment as an attorney for U.S. companies in Korea.

According to the Buffalo News story, McMurray helped U.S. companies trying to open up the Korean market to their exports.

McMurray learned to speak Korean while working there. He married a Korean. He's said that the Collins' ad is xenophobic. He shared this on Twitter yesterday:

"I watched that ugly attack ad with my son. His mom is Korean. My son speaks Korean. He looked at me with a grave sadness on his face. He felt what I felt. Neither of us said a word."

Collins was arrested Aug. 3 and charged with securities fraud. A few days later he suspended his campaign. Earlier this week, he announced he would not cooperate with GOP efforts to remove his name from the ballot in November and then announced he would resume actively campaigning for reelection. As far as we know, he made his first public appearance in the district today in Newstead. About the event, he tweeted

It's great to be back on the campaign trail meeting with constituents across NY-27. Voters have a clear choice in November. We must keep this seat in Republican hands to continue advancing President Trump's America first agenda.

September 21, 2018 - 3:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in NY27, politics, Nate McMurray, chris collins, news.

Press release:

Nate McMurray, the Democratic and Working Families Party Candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, today responded to the launch of Chris Collins’ so-called campaign comprised solely of TV attack ads:

“Right out of the gate, Chris Collins’ so-called campaign has nothing to do with Chris Collins. There’s a reason: there’s nothing to brag about while their guy is out on bail. This ad is desperate, it’s untruthful, and no one’s going to fall for it. I can’t believe they thought it was a good idea to start with this.

“I won’t shy away from the fact that I speak a foreign language, that I’ve been on the front lines of the trade war that’s redefining our economy, and that I’ve been fighting FOR American workers. Do you think I’d have the support of the local and national labor community if I was going to ship jobs to Asia? Of course not.

“I’ll use every experience I’ve got to fight for this district. No can play me in Warsaw or Washington, Beijing or Batavia.

“If this is the best they’ve got, bring it."

In 2003, Nate was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the development of democracy in the Constitutional Court of Korea. He worked to represent U.S. farmers and U.S. manufacturers ensuring that they had an opportunity to feature their products in Korean stories, helping create jobs back here at home.

About Nate McMurray

Nate McMurray is a native of North Tonawanda. He’s a family man, an Eagle Scout. He is also one of seven children raised by his widowed mother when his father died of cancer at the age of 39. Nate worked his way through community college, earned a bachelor’s degree at SUNY-Buffalo, then went on to law school and a successful career in business.

For the last two years, he’s served as town supervisor of Grand Island, a conservative community in Western New York, where he has been instrumental in bringing fiscal responsibility to local government and millions of dollars in new business investment to the town. For more on Nate McMurray and his campaign for Congress in NY-27, visit www.votemcmurray.com.

September 19, 2018 - 4:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, Nate McMurray, notify.

Rep. Chris Collins announced on Twitter today that he will "actively" seek reelection to the NY-27 seat he's held through three terms despite being under federal indictment for alleged securities fraud, wire fraud and lying to the FBI.

Collins released his statement in a graphic. Below is the graphic:

dnetj3-x0aagqd9.jpg

Below is a response from Nate McMurray, who is challenging Collins in the November election:

Nate McMurray, the Democratic and Working Families Party Candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, reacted to today’s news that indicted member of Congress and master insider trader Chris Collins would suspend suspending his campaign.
 
“It looks like the criminal is returning to the scene of the crime – and I’m not just talking about insider trading, lying to the FBI and everything else he’s been accused of – I mean the derelict(ion) of duty he did by ignoring his constituents and their interests for every second of his elected life.

"I’m curious to know what Mr. Collins means by ‘actively campaign’ because he hasn’t talked to his constituents, hasn’t held town halls, and has been hiding in his penthouse since the FBI arrested him. Now he thinks that the voters of this district who are getting hurt by a trade war, are struggling to make ends meet, and know that Washington is more corrupt than ever, he thinks they’re going to trust him? Give me a break. He looks out for himself. And maybe his donors.

"Chris Collins has been charged with a crime. He can’t buy his way back into his job.

"Chris Collins thinks the rules don’t apply to him. They do.

"Chris Collins represents everything that’s wrong with Washington.

"Chris, if you’re listening from Manhattan, here are a few words you may remember, ‘lock him up’ ‘drain the swamp’. I hear your next court appearance is on October 11. I bet some folks from NY-27 may take a road trip.

"In the meantime, I welcome you on the campaign trail, sir. Bring it.”

September 17, 2018 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify, Nate McMurray.

Rep. Chris Collins, the three-term congressman representing the NY-27 who was arrested on insider trading charges, will remain on the ballot in the November election.

Collins, in contradiction with prior statements, has decided not to cooperate with the efforts of GOP leaders in the district to have his name removed from the ballot and replaced by a new candidate.

Below is the only statement released by the Collins' campaign about the decision:

“Because of the protracted and uncertain nature of any legal effort to replace Congressman Collins we do not see a path allowing Congressman Collins to be replaced on the ballot.”

Statement by Mark Braden, legal counsel for Rep. Chris Collins

GOP county chairs were scheduled to meet tomorrow in Albany to select the person they hoped would replace Collins. WBTA reached Genesee County Chair Dick Siebert this afternoon and he said he was as surprised by the sudden of plans as everybody else.

In response to the news of the decision, Nate McMurray, running as the Democratic opponent to Collins in the election, released the following statement:

Today, Nate McMurray, the Democratic and Working Families Party Candidate for New York’s 27th Congressional District, responded to the breaking news that his opponent, indicted Congressman Chris Collins, the first Member of Congress to endorse President Trump, will remain on the ballot despite long-pushed rumors that he would removed before November.

This morning several local news outlets reported and local Republican leaders confirmed that Congressman Collins, on advice from his attorneys, will choose to remain on the ballot.

“Well, it’s nice to finally know who I’m running against. But, in truth, we always knew we were running against Chris Collins. There are laws for a reason. There is accountability in our society for a reason. And in the greatest democracy in the world, voters weren’t going to take this kind of sham switching around names on a ballot at the whims of local party bosses,” McMurray said.

“I credit the people of Western New York for standing up in town after town saying ‘don’t force him on the ballot in my town.’ They saw through this fraud. They weren’t going to fall for the bait-and-switch strategy by the same team that endorsed, celebrated, took pictures with and defended Chris Collins.

“There is an incredible grassroots movement in NY-27. Like me, the voters want to Fight Like Hell against the political machine that has let them down for so long. They like that I’m an underdog. Every day when I’m out meeting voters, we talk about affordable, accessible healthcare for all, defending Social Security, investing in our infrastructure, protecting our farms. But in this region, we’re still always talking about corruption. Voters have a chance to end that once and for all in NY-27 and I’m excited for the next 50 days.”

McMurray heard the news as he was on stage opening his new office headquarters, his fourth in two months, standing with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez. Chairman Perez announced the news to a raucous crowd of more than 120 volunteers and supporters as he announced that the DNC was “all in” for Nate’s campaign.

September 12, 2018 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, news, notify.

The GOP chairs in the NY-27 will apparently meet soon now that a way has been found to remove the name of Chris Collins from the ballot in the race for the NY-27 congressional seat.

Collins dropped out of the race after being arrested Aug. 3 for alleged insider trading. He is charged with securities fraud, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI.

Dick Siebert, the Genesee County chair for the GOP, said he can't disclose any details and that he doesn't even know all of the details.

"I received a call from a source in Erie County and was led to believe that we will get Collins' name off the ballot with the opportunity to replace him with another candidate," Siebert said.

Siebert doesn't know yet when the GOP chairs will meet to discuss this latest development or pick a replacement candidate.

Both the Democrats and the Reform Party have candidates in the race. Nate McMurray, the Democrat, has issued statements blasting the Republicans for any attempt to remove Collins from the ballot and Larry Piegza has issued statements arguing he is the logical pick for the GOP chairs since he's a Trump supporter. Piegza has expressed frustration that none of the GOP chairs will even return his calls.

There are at least eight people vying for the GOP selection, including Batavia's own Steve Hawley, whom Siebert said he favors.

Whatever scheme the Republicans use to remove Collins from the ballot, the Democrats have vowed to fight it in the courts.

Pages

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2018 The Batavian. Some Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license.
Contact: Howard Owens, publisher (howard (at) the batavian dot com); (585) 250-4118

blue button