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Facing Insider Trading Charges, Trump's First Congressional Backer Suspends Re-Election Campaign

After ethics watchdogs called for investigations for more than a year, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was arrested on Wednesday

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.)

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was arrested and charged on Wednesday for his alleged role in an insider trading scheme. (Photo: Rep. Chris Collins/Facebook)

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.)—the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump's bid for president—announced on Saturday that he is suspending his re-election campaign after he was arrested on Wednesday and charged for his alleged role in an insider trading scheme.

In a statement posted to social media Saturday morning, Collins revealed that he is suspending his campaign while maintaining his denial of any wrongdoing. The congressman also said he plans to serve the remaining few months of his term, "to assure that our community maintains its vote in Congress to support President Trump's agenda."

As Common Dreams reported Wednesday, Collins' arrest was celebrated by Washington D.C. ethics watchdogs that have been calling for investigations into several GOP congressmen's investments in Innate Immunotherapeutics for more than a year. Collins served on the Australian biomedical firm's board and is one of its biggest shareholders. He is charged with illegally sharing stock information about the company.

Although Collins has suspended his campaign, removing his name from the ballot is more complicated, as Politico explained:

Under New York law, Collins' name can be supplanted on the ballot at this stage of the cycle only if he dies, moves out of state, or is nominated for another office—like a local judgeship. According to Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, the exact mechanisms are still being worked out, but he noted Collins owns houses in Florida and Washington, D.C.

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Republican leaders from each of the eight counties in the 27th District—which covers rural areas as well as suburbs of Buffalo and Rochester—will meet to select a replacement candidate, Langworthy said. There are more than 40,000 active Republicans than Democrats in the district, which went for Donald Trump by 24 points in 2016.

Following Collins' announcement on Saturday, at least one local Republican, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, indicated on Twitter that he plans to seek the party's nomination to replace Collins on the ballot.

Collins' decision to suspend his campaign, as Politico noted, followed demands from Democrats—including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, chair of the New York State Democratic Committee, that he immediately resign.

Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, a Democrat who is running to represent New York's 27th District, also called on Collins to step down. McMurray, according to his campaign website, supports Medicare for All, women's reproductive rights, taking action to address the climate crisis, and "creating pathways that will allow every student to go to college debt-free."

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