Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) is abandoning his 2018 re-election campaign, amid insider trading allegations and a federal indictment earlier this week.
Collins is said to have passed nonpublic information he received regarding a failed drug trial by Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics to his son last year, before Innate announced the news publicly.
Collins’ son, Cameron, subsequently dumped all of his shares of the company. One day later, the company announced the results of that failed trial, prompting its stock price to drop 90 percent, to 4 cents per share.
Cameron Collins, as well as several others, were able to “[avoid] a total of approximately $768,000 in losses” as a result of that insider information, according to federal prosecutors.
Collins, his son, and one other man were indicted earlier this week by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York on 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and making false statements to authorities. CNBC notes all three men are also being sued by the Security and Exchange Commission.
On Saturday, Collins issued a statement, saying he would suspend his re-election bid in the wake of that indictment.
“Democrats are laser focused on taking back the House, electing Nancy Pelosi Speaker and then launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump…something that neither our country or my party can afford,” he wrote. “After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best interests of the constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda for me to suspend my campaign for re-election to Congress. ”
Collins said he would “fill out the remaining few months of my term to assure that our community maintains its vote in Congress.”
The comments were a notable shift from Collins’ statement earlier this week, in which he said he would continue to campaign for re-election while fighting the insider trading charges, which he called “meritless.”
“I look forward to being fully vindicated and exonerated […],” he said in a press conference Wednesday. “As I fight to clear my name rest assured I will continue to work hard for the people and constituents of the 27th Congressional District of New York and I will remain on the ballot running for reelection this November.”
Earlier that day, a representative for the congressman issued a similar statement, claiming, “It is notable that even the government does not allege that Congressman Collins traded a single share of Innate Therapeutics stock.”
On Saturday, Collins acknowledged that he would continue to fight the charges in court, despite dropping his re-election bid.
“I will…continue to fight the meritless charges brought against me and I look forward to having my good name cleared of any wrongdoing,” he said.
Collins was one of President Trump’s earliest supporters and the first member of Congress to back his 2016 election bid. As ThinkProgress previously noted, the congressman endorsed Trump in February 2016, earning a nod from the then-GOP candidate, who thanked him personally on Twitter.
“Chris, thank you so much for your wonderful endorsement,” Trump wrote. “I will not let you down!”
More recently, Collins has been one of Trump’s staunchest defenders, calling on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to end his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and allegations of obstruction against Trump and his associates.
He has also argued that neither Trump, nor any other elected official, should be required to release their tax returns publicly.
This week’s indictment comes one year after the Office of Congressional Ethics opened an investigation into Collins’ position as a board member at Innate, on the belief that he may have violated federal securities law. Collins was also accused of writing legislation that would have benefited Innate, and by extension, himself.