Republican New York Rep. Chris Collins resigned his seat in Congress on Monday, one day before pleading guilty to federal charges related to insider trading.
Resignation submitted, guilty plea expected
Politico reported that Collins submitted his resignation on Monday and stepped down from the seat he had held representing the Buffalo, New York area since 2012, an office to which he was re-elected in 2018 despite being under indictment on federal charges at the time.
Collins pleaded guilty to insider trading charges on Tuesday morning.
The charges were filed in August 2018 and relate to allegations that Collins shared inside information with family members about a company in which they all were heavily invested, an Australian biotech firm known as Innate Immunotherapeutics. Aside from being the largest investor in that company, Collins also sat on its board of directors.
The biotech firm had been researching a new drug treatment for multiple sclerosis, but clinical trials were unsuccessful. Collins passed that particularly pertinent piece of information along to his family before the news became public, which allowed them to dump their shares — though Collins kept his — prior to the company’s stock price collapsing in June 2017. They were thus able to avoid hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential losses.
Early Trump supporter
The media establishment has been especially keen to focus on Collins’ troubles given the fact that he was the first member of Congress to publicly support then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016 and subsequently became an outspoken defender of the new president in 2017.
Prior to joining Congress, Collins was a successful business executive who had made tens of millions of dollars in various endeavors. Following several unsuccessful attempts to seek political office, he was finally elected in 2012.
When Collins was indicted in August 2018, he didn’t tender his resignation — nor was he pressured to do so by Republican leadership — but he did step down from his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and announced that he would not seek re-election in 2018.
However, he later changed his mind and barely retained his seat in Congress, winning by just one point after essentially self-funding his campaign with about $500,000 of his own money. Given the solidly red trend within Collins’ district, it is unlikely that his resignation will lead to the seat falling into Democrat hands in the 2020 election.
Congressional insider trading
Breitbart noted that Collins’ resignation is essentially another notch in the belt of anti-corruption author Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute. Schweizer, who wrote the book “Throw Them All Out” in 2011, has devoted ample attention to political corruption, particularly allegations of insider trading among members of Congress.
In fact, Schweizer has been a driving force behind the passage of the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which prohibits members of Congress from enriching themselves by taking advantage of insider market knowledge and would increase financial transparency requirements for politicians, executive branch officials, staffers, and their family members.
It is unclear at this time what sort of sentence Collins can expect to receive as a result of his guilty plea.