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Collins suspends re-election campaign, will serve out rest of term

File photo: Chris Caya WBFO News

Rep. Chris Collins is suspending his re-election campaign in the wake of his indictment in an alleged insider trading scheme -- a move that throws the 27th District race into further turmoil.

In a statement released Saturday morning, the Clarence Republican said he made the decision after "extensive discussions" with his family and friends and that it is in the "best interests" of his constituents.

But Collins did say he would fill out the remaining months of his current term.

He also said he will continue to fight what he calls the "meritless" charges against him. Collins, who has represented the 27th district since 2013, was charged this week with insider trading.

The district was generally seen as a safe seat for the GOP. But the indictment -- and Collins' sudden withdrawal -- have provided an opening for Democrat Nate McMurray of Grand Island.

But it's unclear exactly how Republicans can put a new candidate on the ballot -- and who that candidate will be. Stefan Mychajliw, the Erie Co. comptroller, jumped into the race Saturday; others could follow.

The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday filed charges against Rep. Collins, his son Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins’ fiancée, in an alleged insider trading scheme.

The charges are related to securities of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotechnology company on whose board of directors Chris Collins served. He was also one of the company's largest shareholders, according to federal prosecutors.

According to the charging documents, in June 2017 Chris Collins passed on information about a failed drug trial so his son, Zarsky and others could make trades. By selling stock before the results of the trial were publicly released, the three men and other unnamed individuals avoided $768,000 in losses.

All three men pleaded not guilty, and Chris Collins pledged at a news conference Wednesday evening to continue his re-election campaign.

But that changed Saturday, when he issued this statement:

"Democrats are laser focused on taking back the House, electing Nancy Pelosi Speaker and then launching impeachment proceedings against President Trump. They would like nothing more than to elect an 'Impeach Trump' Democrat in this District, which is something that neither our country or my party can afford.  

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.  

I will fill out the remaining few months of my term to assure that our community maintains its vote in Congress to support President Trump’s agenda to create jobs, eliminate regulations, reduce the size of government, address immigration and lower taxes.

I will also continue to fight the meritless charges brought against me and I look forward to having my good name cleared of any wrongdoing."

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