BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rep. Chris Collins on Monday handed in his letter of resignation as congressman of New York’s 27th District.
A letter of resignation was sent to Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The Republican’s resignation will become official on Tuesday, during a pro forma session of the House tomorrow, which is scheduled for 9 a.m.
The announcement came shortly after News 4 confirmed a change of plea hearing for Collins, his son Cameron and Stephen Zarsky was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Previously, all three pleaded not guilty in the insider trading case against them.
Collins served on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, an Australian biotechnology company. According to a criminal complaint, Collins learned of the negative results of some clinical trials for the company, and told his son Cameron about the results before they were released to the public, federal prosecutors say.
Ever since he was charged, Collins maintained his innocence, even saying over the summer that he wouldn’t take a plea deal. Collins, a four-term incumbent, did not offer public comment all day Monday.
Chris Collins’ hearing is Tuesday in Manhattan. Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky have a hearing set for Thursday.
Federal prosecutors initially declined to comment on his change of plea hearing.
The reactions to Collins’ sudden Monday announcement quickly stacked up.
State GOP Chair Nick Langworthy, who was the longtime Erie County Republican Chair, said the situation has been politically difficult to navigate for more than a year.
“This has been a massive distraction since last August,” said Langworthy. “We went through an awful lot of mascinations to replace the candidate last year roughly around this time. Ultimately, he was successful in the reelection, but it was a distraction that has continued, and it’s lingered through this year.”
State Sen. Chris Jacobs was already a candidate for the seat for next election.
“Our challenge now as Republicans and conservatives is to help restore the public trust and offer the people of Western New York a positive vision for the future. I’ve fought for conservative principles in Albany and worked hard to deliver on a high ethical standard. I decided to run for Congress because I believe Western New York deserves a member of Congress who can be effective and Republicans deserve a candidate who can win this seat, help President Trump stop the illegal immigration crisis and enact better trade deals.”Statement from state Sen. Chris Jacobs
State Sen. Rob Ortt was also seeking to become the next representative of New York’s 27th Congressional District prior to the announcement.
“It is vital that we continue to have a strong, conservative voice representing the residents of New York’s 27th Congressional District and elect a candidate who will defend President Trump’s agenda. I am the only candidate in this race who has proven that they are willing to do both. It is time that we send a battle-tested patriot to Washington who will stand up for our district, stand up to the Party of Impeachment, and push back against the radical socialists running our nation’s Democrat Party.”State Sen. Rob Ortt
On the opposite side of the political aisle, Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, who ran against Collins in the past Congressional race, also released a statement.
Here is what McMurray said:
“The real victims of Collins’ crimes are the people of his district that he repeatedly lied to about his guilt. Collins and Republican party insiders robbed his constituents of the representation they need on important issues like the rising cost of healthcare, the opioid epidemic, and the fight for good paying jobs. They all failed us, so I’m going to keep talking about the critical issues Western New Yorkers face every day, because that’s what public service should be about, working to make other people’s lives just a little bit better.”Nate McMurray
Lynne Dixon is a Republican running for Erie County Executive.
“It appears that Chris Collins will admit to his crimes and should be held accountable for his actions. Resigning was the correct thing to do and now it is time for this community to move forward. The people of Erie County deserve honest leaders who are focused on helping others, not themselves, and that’s why I’m running for County Executive.”Statement from Lynne Dixon
Rep. Brian Higgins, who represents the adjacent New York’s 26th District, issued this statement:
“For well over a year, the people of Western New York have been made to endure the consequences of the federal criminal indictment against Rep. Chris Collins, which show, in detail, how he disavowed the public’s trust for his own personal gain. His charges and subsequent suspension from deliberations in House committees and limited public engagements resulted in the people of Western New York – his 700,000-plus constituents – having lesser representation in Washington and here at home.
“Now, his resignation and expected change in plea to guilty, show to the people of Western New York and the nation that no one is above the law, no matter what level of privilege you possess.
“The Western New York community certainly deserves better. This resignation allows us to move forward.”Statement from Rep. Brian Higgins
Rep. Tom Reed also issued a statement later in the day.
“We are pleased to see this issue brought to a close, and we urge Governor Cuomo to waste no time in calling for a special election to ensure the people of New York’s 27th Congressional District have proper representation in Washington.”Statement from Rep. Tom Reed
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who once held the area’s seat in Congress, issued this through a spokesperson:
The Lieutenant Governor is flattered, but no, she will not be running. She was honored to represent the people of seven counties comprising NY-26, but less than one year ago voters elected her to serve the entire State of New York as Lieutenant Governor, a role she truly treasures and will continue in. We know the voters of NY-27 are smart and deserve quality representation. We will be out campaigning hard for whoever the Democratic candidate may be.”Spokesperson for Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul
Conservative candidate for Congress in the NY-27 district, Beth Parlato released a statement regarding Collins’ resignation:
Unfortunately, this is a day we thought would come. Tony and I are praying for the Collins family.Spokesperson for Beth Parlato
Now, we must put this chapter behind us and focus on the future. Our district needs a new start and our party needs a fresh candidate. Most importantly, we need a clean break from the career politicians of the past. We need a new conservative voice.
Tomorrow my campaign will hit the ground running. We’re already bringing new people to the party and the financial support for my campaign has been overwhelming and humbling.
Thanks to the generosity and hard work of many people, I am the most organized, best funded and most conservative candidate to carry us forward. Now, we need to get to work to earn the trust of every family in this district.”
Local Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia spoke about Collins’ resignation on WBEN Monday night.
Monday night on News 4 at 4:30, former Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan gave his insight on Collins’ decision to resign and the insider trading charges against him: