Rep. Chris Collins says ‘I am innocent’ and promises re-election decision in due time

Grand Island

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) — Declaring “I’m innocent of the charges” in regards to the pending federal case against him, Rep. Chris Collins said Tuesday he’s still seriously considering running for re-election.

The one-year anniversary of Collins’ indictment on insider trading is approaching. after which he suspended his campaign, only to be re-elected to his 27th District seat in November.

Collins said he would not be making a decision yet as to whether he’d run again for re-election, but that a final decision was coming in the next few months.

When asked if he would or could use a re-election campaign as a bargaining chip in his federal case, he said, “that’s laughable.”

“Why would I ever even enter a plea deal?” asked Collins, R-Clarence.

“I’m quite comfortable where I’ll be at the end of this, which is not guilty, so I would have no interest and plus, I’m not even sure where that comes from.”

On June 18th, Collins loaned his campaign half a million dollars. Some saw that as a sure sign he would run again despite the fact jury selection in his case is set to begin in February 2020. Collins said he just wants to remain ready should he decide to run again.

“The message to my supporters and to others who may want to oppose me is simple. My campaign will be properly funded. period. end of conversation,” Collins said.

Collins was arrested in August 2018 and accused of insider trading in connection with Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australia-based company he once sat on the board of. Collins did acknowledge the charges against him may hurt his campaign.

“I’m not going to downplay the issue where unfortunately there are those that say if you’re charged with something you must be guilty. Well, I’m not guilty of any crime here. but I’m not saying people don’t jump to that unfortunate conclusion. as a result, some people are reluctant to put money in,” Collins said.

State Sen. Chris Jacobs has already declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the district, and this week, conservative activist Beth Parlato joined him, with a handful of others said to be considering a run in this very pro-Trump district.

In another sign he may run, Collins took a page out of the president’s playbook.

“There were black clouds and storm clouds swirling around me in November of last year like no one has ever seen,” Collins said. “The fake Buffalo News and how they reported it and how they continue to report my position, people basically cancelled their subscriptions.”

Collins’ comments were made amid his coming out in opposition of plans to install wind turbines on Lake Erie.

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