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NY-27

August 16, 2019 - 1:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rob Ortt, NY-27, news, notify.

Sen. Rob Ortt, who represents Tonawanda and surrounding areas in Albany, has scheduled a press conference tomorrow to discuss the NY-27 congressional race.

The media advisory does not explicitly say he is planning to announce a primary challenge to Rep. Chris Collins.

Collins, facing a federal indictment on insider trading charges and a House ethics investigation, while maintaining his innocence, has been noncommittal about whether he will seek reelection.

That has kept many potential challenges, including Assemblyman Steve Hawley, on the sidelines.

Hawley reiterated today, "As I have always maintained, we have an incumbent congressman. I will make a decision once his status is known."

Assuming Ortt, a NY Army National Guard veteran who served in Afghanistan and earned a bronze star in combat, enters the race, he will join two other candidates in the primary field against Collins. The other candidates, who have yet to make a publicly announced visit to Batavia, are Chris Jacobs and Beth Parlato.

In the past few months, Ortt has paid a bit of attention to Genesee County, hosting a public forum in Batavia on the farm labor bill and visiting a farm in Corfu, where he first shared a possible interest in running for this congressional seat.

While there is an effort to convince Medal of Honor recipient and Batavia resident David Bellavia to enter the race, Bellavia has taken no public position on the race and is maintaining a busy schedule with the Army to promote service to community and country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 10, 2019 - 11:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nate McMurray, NY-27, news.

Press release:

Today I am officially declaring my candidacy in New York’s 27th Congressional District. In some ways, it seems like I never stopped. I continue to travel across Western New York meeting with good people; listening and learning.

But I was struggling to officially commit. I know how hard it is to run, how much time it takes away from my family, and the hateful attacks we will endure. I also considered other opportunities as a business professional and even other roles as a public servant. Certainly, there is a path of less resistance.

Instead, I am choosing the path of most resistance. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Chris Collins’ federal indictment charges for insider trading. Mr. Collins and the political machine behind him remain strong despite his many ethical and legal failures. Many party loyalists continue to view him favorably, even more than his Republican challengers. He retains this support in part due to the tactics he employs; the depths he and his hateful political forces will stoop to.

Despite the perceived insurmountable challenges in 2018, our race against Collins was one of the closest in the country (decided by less than 1 percent), achieving the largest partisan swing of any first time state/ federal candidate in the country—in a district designed for a Republican (any Republican) to win easily. This was despite our side being outspent, outnumbered, and attacked day after day by some of the most dishonest and detestable TV ads ever produced for a political race.

Why did we perform so well? Many are tired of being asked to vote blindly for their party. They are tired of nothing ever-improving, nothing ever-changing. And they are tired of the politics of hate and corruption. With your support, passion, and service to our community, we can finish what we started 2018 and finally reclaim this seat on behalf of the hardworking people of Western New York. People like you, who go to work on time every day, who help their neighbors, who never cheat their business associates, and who spread kindness and goodness throughout their lives.

The last time I ran I said that we needed to “Fight Like Hell.” And we did fight like hell. We always will. But this time I will rely more on the good hearts and values I saw in the people of my district. We will empower the kindness and goodness around us. We will, “Be Kind. Do Good.”

It sounds simple, maybe some will call it soft. But could any two words be more strong in this age of professional cruelty? Kindness and goodness in an era of violence and hate is more bold than any rally cry.

All of us fall short of these values. It is easier to match rage with rage, hate with hate. But with kindness and goodness as our standard, we can overcome this sad moment in American history — a moment where all good people regardless of party affiliation can all feel the America we love fading.

Do not let America fade. America must always be, as Ronald Reagan called it, the “City on the Hill.” A country of kindness and goodness, where capitalism does not build walls; it builds ladders allowing every American to climb from poverty to flourishing. Where we do not fear science and fact, but embrace and lead the world in research and education. Where we do not pay homage to millionaires and aristocrats but value those who provide humble, honest service to family, friends and community.

In 2020, we will go to Washington to fight for healthcare for every American (now!), infrastructure (now!), for common-sense gun control (and now!), for immigration reform to help our farmers (now!), and for technologies and policies that will confront the reality of climate change. I will also fight for a capitalist system that preserves the American Dream and provides opportunities to all, and not just hoards wealth for the most connected and elite.

“Given how close Nate came in 2018, we are thrilled to have him running for us this cycle. It’s been too long since the people of NY-27 have had a representative that cares about representing the voters rather than the party. It is the one-year anniversary of Chris Collins’ indictment and the Republicans are still stuck with him and don’t know what to do. We are delighted to have Nate running again” -- Judith Hunter (chair, Livingston County Democratic Committee)

"When Nate McMurray ran in NY-27 in 2018, he came within less than a percentage point of victory. But along with this, he did something else, something magical. He energized the rural counties. He created a movement on the ground that hasn't gone away. Nate asked them all to ‘Fight Like Hell’, they did, and will again." -- Cynthia Appleton (chair, Wyoming County Democratic Committee)

“I am so pleased to hear that Nate will be running again. He has visited Orleans County many times and is very aware of what our small county faces every day...few jobs, lack of affordable housing and high taxes. We need Nate!” -- Jeanne Crane (chair, Orleans County Democratic Committee)

“Chairwoman Brittaney Wells and the Monroe County Democratic Committee are proud to join Nate to finish the fight he began in 2018 for the 27th Congressional District. We are confident that he will be successful in his effort to unseat an absentee billionaire that has not represented the hard-working people of the 27th. Nate will restore integrity to the office and ensure his constituents are heard.” -- Brittaney Wells (chair, Monroe County Democratic Committee)

Thank you all for standing with me in the battles ahead. Together we will finish what we started; together we will bring real representation to the hard-working people of Western New York.

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 29, 2019 - 11:04am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Beth Parlato, news, NY-27.

Press release:

Buffalo — She’s spent a career as a champion for families. Now, Beth Parlato is a candidate for Congress. Conservative activist Beth Parlato announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination in New York’s 27th Congressional District today.

The family law attorney and former judge promised to be a new, conservative voice in Congress.

“I’m concerned about the direction of our country," Parlato said. "Even as we see the evidence of a booming economy that continues to lift up every American, the loudest voices on the left are pushing socialist policies that will destroy jobs and devastate families. Now is not the time to go backwards.”

Beth Parlato has decades of experience. As a family law attorney and Judge, Beth has seen up close the struggles that families are dealing with.

“I’ve seen so many difficult situations,” Parlato said. “Families are in crisis and it’s taken a toll on our country; when our families are hurting, so is our nation.”

Parlato is also a recognized leader in the conservative movement. She is a regular contributor on Fox News and her leadership roles in Moms for America and Concerned Women for America have given her a large national voice to fight for conservative values.

“Christian and traditional values are mocked and the loudest voices on the left seem to have a disdain for America. We need a conservative alternative to what they call ‘the squad.’ In Congress, I’ll be that new voice.”

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

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 9, 2019 - 12:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, news, notify, NY-27.

davidbellavia_presser.jpg

Before the public learned David Bellavia would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Iraq War in Fallujah, the Batavia resident was on the short list of possible candidates for the NY-27, even in a possible primary challenge to Rep. Chris Collins.

After the award was announced, when the topic came up, Bellavia demurred. He expressed concern that entering the political fray could tarnish the medal. He said he wanted to serve his country and the best way to do that might be helping the Army recruit new soldiers.

His former political consultant, Michael Caputo, thinks Bellavia needs to hear loud and clear from the citizens of the NY-27 that the best way for the Iraq War veteran to serve his country is as a member of Congress.

Today, Caputo, along with the help of seven political leaders in all seven counties of the district, launched a "Draft Bellavia Campaign," aimed at demonstrating to Bellavia that the people of the district do want him to serve in Congress and it puts in place an organization to support a campaign -- and a list of potential donors -- so that when and if Bellavia does decide to run, he's ready to go.

"We’re at a point in this country here where we need heroes," Caputo said. "When I look around Congress and Washington, I see very few heroes. We have in David Bellavia right here in Western New York -- a hero -- and I think we need to look at our own hero and tell him we want him to run for Congress if he wants to.

"At a time when our country needs heroes like never before, and I think everybody realizes, and we have in our midst a bonafide hero, it is our responsibility as a community to step up and elect one for our own heroes, like it is the responsibility of any community to deliver good, honest leadership." 

Caputo hopes Bellavia will make the decision by the end of October, or at least after the holidays.

The Genesee County chair for the Draft Bellavia movement is City Councilman Adam Tabelski.

"I'm joining to encourage David to run because I care deeply about our country and our government," Tabelski said. "Its future will either be shaped by people who are the best we can find or by somebody else, and I think David is an outstanding individual who is among the best we could hope to represent us in Congress."

Bellavia is currently employed by the Army and traveling on behalf of the military. He cannot participate in a political campaign. Caputo said he informed Bellavia of the "Draft Bellavia" effort and Bellavia neither encouraged nor waived off the effort.

Yesterday, Bellavia returned to his radio show on WBEN in Buffalo for one day and when asked about a potential run for Congress, he again expressed concern that a run for office could be misconstrued now that he's won the Medal of Honor.

"I just I have so much reverence for this award," Bellavia said on air. "I know for the longest time what we do on this show is we stir the pot. We, you know, sometimes antagonize and sometimes poke people we disagree with, and I just I don't ever want anyone to say that this award is being used for anything other than promoting what I think is the most important thing for the future of this republic, which is getting young people to make the decision that myself and all of my friends made, and it made our lives better, and that was serving our country in uniform."

When pressed by cohost Tom Bauerle, however, Bellavia said he will serve his country in whatever way he feels compelled to serve.

"I'm not ruling anything out," Bellavia said. "If I feel compelled to serve, you know, I might if I feel compelled to serve in uniform. I'll get back in shape and grab a rifle and go back. You know, if I'm compelled to run for office I might do that, too. But at this point, I'm the property of the U.S. Army and my job is to get out there and share that story and get as many people from all backgrounds to make a decision to put their country before themselves and get that next generation ready for the fight."

Bellavia first ran for Congress in 2011, in the special election to replace Chris Lee after Lee resigned because of a shirtless post he made on Craigslist. While he eventually endorsed Jack Davis in that race, he began by knocking the Erie County GOP political machine that gave GLOW Tom Reynolds, Chris Lee, Jane Corwin, the GOP candidate that year, and eventually Chris Collins (who was county executive in Erie County at the time). 

Kathy Hochul eventually won the election.

He ran again in the GOP primary in 2012, losing to Chris Collins.

Bellavia has since cited that loss as a reason to believe the people of NY-27 may not want him to run now.

That's another reason Caputo believes Bellavia needs to be convinced there is a strong grassroots effort to back a Bellavia campaign.

The effort includes a website, DraftBellavia.com.

"Our goal is to get 10,000 supporters organized by county all within the boundaries of the district," Caputo said. "We’re about to put up a device on the website to provide an opportunity to send an email to David to give him special encouragement, saying why you back David, what inspires you to do so. That's the kind of input a draft candidate needs. He needs to know how the community feels." 

A big factor in Bellavia's decision, Caputo acknowledged, however, is what Collins decides to do. Publically, Collins, who is under federal indictment on insider trading charges, hasn't committed to a reelection campaign. He is going to face at least one primary challenger -- Chris Jacobs -- and Caputo said Collins and Bellavia are friends. He doesn't believe Bellavia will want to run if Collins is determined to have his own name on the primary ballot.

President Donald Trump could have some say in the race and Caputo, who is friends with Trump and was the one who first introduced Collins to Trump, said Trump will be watching developments in the NY-27 closely. He may or may not weigh in with his own wishes at some point.

Another political factor to be weighed, Caputo said, is redistricting after the 2020 census. New York could lose another Congressional seat. The NY-27 as we know it could become far less of a conservative district if it takes in more of Buffalo or Rochester, or stay red if it picks up more of the Southern Tier.

"David is the best candidate of all those considering running for the NY-27 that preserves the district if the redistricting ax handle falls in Albany," Caputo said. "The NY-27 is less likely to be taken from a Medal of Honor recipient. The voters of the NY-27 have a rare opportunity to select the only Republican candidate who can repel a redistricting raiding party."

As for what kind of candidate and congressman Bellavia might be, Caputo said he believes Bellavia could be the kind of leader that helps heal some of the divisions in the country. While Bellavia has supported the president, his Hall of Heroes speech -- a big hit with conservatives that has drawn no fire from progressives -- was patriotic without being nationalist, Caputo acknowledged. It was anti-war while promising to rain destruction on any nations that attack the United States, and standing before the Army's top brass, Bellavia stood strong for loyalty, equality, and a free press.

After praising the work of combat journalist Michael Ware, and noting the important role journalists play in telling the story of the men and women who go to war, Bellavia said:

"This entire military is one cohesive dedicated force. And the threats to our nations -- they don't sleep. They're watching our every move. Iran. Russia. China. North Korea. ISIS. Al-Qaeda. They may be watching this right now.

"Our military should not be mistaken for our cable news gabfest show. We don't care what you look like. We don't care who you voted for, who you worship, what you worship, or who you love. It doesn't matter if your dad left you millions when he died or if you knew who your father was. We have been honed into a machine of lethal moving parts that you would be wise to avoid if you know what's good for you.

"We will not be intimidated. We will not back down. We've seen war. We don't want war. But if you want war with the United States of America, there's one thing I can promise you, so help me God, someone else will raise your sons and daughters.

"We fight so our children never have to. We fight for one day when our children and our enemies' children can discuss their differences without fear or loathing."

That tempered conservatism reflects Bellavia's beliefs, Caputo said.

"Most Western New York progressives, who are valuable voices in the discussion, in the public discussion, most of them know David," Caputo said. "Some of them are good friends because David made a point when he returned to Western New York to reach out to progressives he respects.  

"The reflexively anti-conservative progressives might not support him but the open-minded, thinking progressives who have been in conversations with David for years now, understand the kind of person he is. 

"If people approach this honestly, there is an agreement on both sides that we're in trouble as a nation and we need to tone this down and become more united. David is the person who can start that conversation from our side."

Photo: File photo, Bellavia's 2012 campaign kickoff announcement.

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

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

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

 

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

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

Press release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We should trust him on that promise, he said.

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

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

The response?

Crickets.

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

Now, we're supposed to trust Collins.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, this exchange:

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

Chris Collins: "Yes."

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

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

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

chriscollinsmay16209.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 14, 2019 - 11:53am

 

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

2019 Congressional Art Competition Winners:

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

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

collinsgccartcomp2019.jpg

collinsgccartcomp2019-2.jpg

The winning picture by William Palmer, Batavia HS.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press release:

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

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.

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