Not a Single Human Being Donated to Embattled Rep. Chris Collins’ Campaign

By (Lachlan Markay)
Bill Clark/Getty

Not a single human being donated to Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-N.Y.) reelection campaign in the first three months of 2019.

Collins, who is facing federal securities fraud charges, brought in just $5,000 in the first quarter of the year, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission this week. That’s compared to the roughly $280,000 he raised in the same period during the 2018 election cycle. And this time around, none of the money came from individual contributors.

The funds Collins received came from two political action committees representing moderate, business-friendly Republicans—the Tuesday Group PAC and the Republican Main Street Partnership (RMSP)—and from the campaign committee of a former colleague, Dan Donovan, a Staten Island Republican who lost his House reelection bid last year.

Collins office did not immediately return request for comment.

Collins was arrested in August and charged with 10 criminal counts, including securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, wire fraud, making false statements to the FBI. Federal prosecutors say Collins used his position on the board of a pharmaceutical company to glean information about its upcoming failure in a key drug trial, and shared that information with his son, who subsequently sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock in the company.

Despite that, the congressman, who pleaded not guilty last year, went on to narrowly win reelection in 2018. He has is now vying for another term in office, even with a court hearing in his case scheduled for this September.

He’s running with virtually no financial support. The Tuesday Group and RMSP each donated $1,000 to Collins in February, and each gave another $1,000 in March. Collins was one of dozens of members of Congress to which the two groups donated in the first three months of the year. Donovan’s campaign committee also donated $1,000 to Collins in February along with a number of his House Republican colleagues.

The RMSP website continues to display Collins’ photo among its list of endorsed candidates. Asked about that support in light of Collins’ legal troubles, a spokesperson told The Daily Beast, “Rep. Chris Collins was re-elected to a fourth term by the constituents of New York's 27th district. Republican Main Street Partnership respects the will of the people."

Collins used the money from RMSP and his other first quarter donors, as well as a decent stockpile of cash left over from his 2018 reelection bid, to pay lawyers and campaign consultants. He also reported three expenditures in January and February for “fundraising events,” despite the complete lack of individual donors to his campaign through the end of last month. He ended the first quarter of 2019 with $167,000 cash on hand.

The western New York congressional district that Collins represents, which includes some of the Buffalo suburbs, is the most heavily Republican district in the state. But controversy over Collins’ indictment last year made his 2018 reelection race a close one. He narrowly eked out a win, besting Democrat Nate McMurray by fewer than 1,100 votes out of more than 285,000 cast.

Collins is now a top name on Democrats’ 2020 target list, and McMurray has signaled that he may challenge him once again.

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