Democratic challenger says Chris Collins' arrest shows the swamp “is alive and well in Washington, DC”
Nate McMurray — responding to the arrest of Rep. Chris Collins, indicted on federal charges of conspiracy over insider trading — said he isn’t surprised.
McMurray, the Democrat running against Collins to represent the 27th Congressional District, said Monday's events highlight the reason for his campaign.
“This is why I got in this race, because I understand that the man who claims to represent this community doesn’t actually represent it,” said McMurray. The 27th District covers much of Ontario County, including Canandaigua, Farmington and Victor, as well as all of Livingston, Genesee, Wyoming and Orleans counties and parts of Monroe, Niagara and Erie counties.
“Chris Collins has openly admitted that he serves only wealthy donors and that his proudest accomplishment is making millions for his friends here in Western New York and in Washington,” McMurray said. “That’s not what Congress is for and not what our democracy is about.”
Collins, first elected in 2012, became one of President Donald Trump’s most ardent and public backers. He staunchly backed Trump's $1.5 trillion tax cut, telling reporters that pressure from his donors was a factor in passing the bill. "My donors are basically saying, 'Get it done or don't ever call me again,'" said Collins, who refuses to hold town hall meetings to hear from constituents.
“Today’s allegations by the U.S. attorney were shocking and sad, but not surprising – this has been unfolding, piece by piece, for many months,” said McMurray, town supervisor of Grand Island, Erie County. McMurray was in Canandaigua last month to rally supporters. “Anyone who’s been paying attention knows what’s going on,” he said Wednesday at a press conference. “And now the jig is up, because no matter how this is spun, it’s clear that the swamp is alive and well in Washington, DC.”
John Hurley, chair of the Ontario County Democratic Committee, said after the arrest that while an indictment of insider trading may not seem to have a direct bearing on constituents, “it certainly speaks volumes of the character of the person they have chosen to represent them.”
Collins pleaded not guilty. The three-term Congressman from Erie County said he continues to represent the district. Hurley said he questions how Collins can be an effective legislator when he is preoccupied “defending himself against very serious criminal charges.”
“That alone suggests he can’t really represent the people of the district,” Hurley said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that “until this matter is settled” Collins is no longer on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“While his guilt or innocence is a question for the courts to settle, the allegations against Rep. Collins demand a prompt and thorough investigation by the House Ethics Committee,” stated Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin. “Insider trading is a clear violation of the public trust.”
In Ontario County, Trisha Turner, chair of the Ontario County Republican Committee, did not respond to messages seeking a response. Reid Robbins, chair of the Ontario County Conservative Party, did not respond to messages seeking response.
Collins has been campaigning for a fourth term, running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines in November.
Larry Piegza, who is running on the Reform line for the 27th, issued a statement. Piegza, who is also from Erie County, owns Gap Technologies, Inc., a company that develops software for colleges and universities.
“In the past, the Reform Party has always endorsed Chris Collins. They broke from that this year when allegations against the congressman were revealed,” stated Piegza. “The Reform Party has long believed in reforming the political and electoral process, eliminating corruption and special interest control of governmental policies, and returning more power to the people.”
“The partisan fighting in Congress this year has disgusted many people,” stated Piegza. “People want a balanced budget, not a circus show.”