SEVERE WX : Flood Warning View Alerts

Collins' indictment creates another battleground -- and another midterms headache -- for House GOP

Rep. Chris Collins' ...

Posted: Aug 9, 2018 8:44 AM
Updated: Aug 9, 2018 8:44 AM

Rep. Chris Collins' indictment on insider trading charges Wednesday morning has turned yet another safe Republican seat into a potential battleground in November's midterm elections.

The charges -- stemming from Collins' actions while at a congressional picnic at the White House last year -- led the House GOP's campaign arm to distance itself from Collins and what could be an unfolding ethics scandal.

Arrests

Chris Collins

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal law

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Government organizations - US

Law and legal system

Law enforcement

Midterm elections

New York (State)

New York City

North America

Northeastern United States

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

The Americas

United States

US Congress

US Federal elections

US House elections

US House of Representatives

US political parties

US Republican Party

Indictments

"These are very serious charges. We will let the facts come to light and trust the judicial system as we continue to assess his re-election campaign," said Matt Gorman, the communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Just hours after Collins' indictment, it's still far from clear what the political fallout will be. Collins was set to hold a news conference Wednesday evening. Lawyers for Collins said the congressman would be "completely vindicated."

"We will answer the charges filed against Congressman Collins in court and will mount a vigorous defense to clear his good name," Collins' attorneys, Jonathan Barr and Jonathan New, said in a statement. "It is notable that even the government does not allege that Congressman Collins traded a single share of Innate Therapeutics stock. We are confident he will be completely vindicated and exonerated."

Under New York law, it is difficult to extremely remove someone from the ballot after they have won their party's nomination -- as Collins did in last month's primary. Collins would remain on the ballot even if he resigns -- no matter the legal proceedings -- said New York Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin.

The only ways for Collins to be removed from the ballot, Conklin said, are death or accepting the GOP's nomination for a separate office -- typically a judgeship or a town position. "I don't think there's anything in New York law that puts him off the ballot, even if he was convicted," Conklin said.

Collins' 27th District, which spans through a stretch between Buffalo and Rochester in western New York, has been a Republican stronghold in recent years. President Donald Trump won there by 24 percentage points in 2016, and Mitt Romney carried it by 12 points in 2012.

Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump's presidential campaign, and won re-election by 34 points in 2016.

However, a congressional ethics probe has long swirled around Collins. That's why the district had already been one of the 111 on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "target list" of seats that could be in play.

The Democratic candidate facing Collins is Nate McMurray, the Grand Island town supervisor. He has just $82,000 in the bank at the end of the 2018's second quarter compared to Collins' $1.3 million -- in part because the race was, until now, not seen as particularly competitive.

With Collins' indictment, "unprecedented grassroots energy, and the strong candidacy of Nate McMurray, this seat is firmly in play for Democrats," DCCC communications director Meredith Kelly said.

In a statement Wednesday, McMurray said Collins' indictment was "shocking and sad, but not surprising."

"This has been unfolding, piece by piece, for many months," McMurray said. "Anyone who's been paying attention knows what's going on. And now the jig is up, because no matter how this is spun, it's clear that the swamp is alive and well in Washington, DC"

Others have won re-election while under ethical clouds in the past: New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is up for re-election this fall after his trial on federal corruption charges last year ended in a hung jury. Former New York Rep. Michael Grimm was re-elected in 2012 amid an investigation into a straw donor scheme, and again in 2014 during a tax evasion probe. He resigned in early 2015. And former Louisiana Democratic Rep. Bill Jefferson was re-elected in 2006 months after the FBI raided his congressional offices -- though he was indicted in 2007 and lost in 2008.

For Republicans, there is also the bigger-picture concern that fallout from Collins' indictment could extend beyond his district.

The Collins indictment evoked memories of 2006, the last Democratic midterm wave election, when another scandal caused political damage for House Republicans. That year, Florida GOP Rep. Mark Foley was forced to resign in late September after sending sexually suggestive messages to teenage boys who had been congressional pages. Republican leaders' handling of the scandal turned it into one with a broad impact on the GOP in that year's elections.

Other GOP lawmakers had also invested in Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, the Australian company at the center of the charges Collins faces, and where he was a board member. Among those who have listed shares in the company on their financial disclosures are Texas Rep. John Culberson, whose Houston-area seat is a major November battleground, Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, a former House member from Georgia.

Collins' charges "throws their shady backroom dealings into sharp relief," the DCCC's Kelly said. "Their actions clearly require close scrutiny and their voters deserve answers."

Lafayette
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 42°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
35° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 29°
Rensselaer
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 31°
Lafayette
Clear
44° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 42°
Danville
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 34°
Frankfort
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 33°
Frankfort
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 33°
Monticello
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 34°
Monticello
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 34°
Logansport
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 28°
Nice, mild weather....more active by late next week.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 662213

Reported Deaths: 12595
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion907061645
Lake48425878
Allen35861636
Hamilton32099397
St. Joseph29996512
Elkhart25386415
Vanderburgh21247378
Tippecanoe20024201
Johnson16349360
Porter15975270
Hendricks15825300
Clark11965181
Madison11746318
Vigo11612229
Monroe10333161
Delaware9838179
LaPorte9772196
Howard9056197
Kosciusko8562110
Bartholomew7456147
Warrick7416151
Hancock7409131
Floyd7207169
Wayne6633191
Grant6427157
Morgan6092125
Boone609088
Dubois5910111
Dearborn547467
Cass544499
Marshall5425104
Henry542393
Noble509378
Jackson464767
Shelby460690
Lawrence4184112
Gibson401281
Harrison399864
Clinton395853
Montgomery387083
DeKalb385278
Knox357485
Miami357463
Whitley349436
Huntington344476
Steuben338355
Wabash331476
Putnam330559
Ripley327161
Adams323549
Jasper316143
White297352
Jefferson294973
Daviess285396
Fayette271956
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260931
Wells258275
Scott250350
Clay241444
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217330
Jennings215244
Washington211227
Sullivan203439
Fountain201542
Starke188151
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177828
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164822
Vermillion160542
Franklin159435
Tipton146441
Parke139316
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown95039
Benton92013
Crawford90713
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7548
Union67110
Ohio53711
Unassigned0433

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events