U.S. Rep., a Buffalo Republican, said Wednesday that he will remain on the November ballot despite being indicted for securities fraud hours earlier. Collins is accused of using insider information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, an Australian biotechnology company, to help his son make illicit stock trades.
Collins said he would "mount a vigorous defense in court to clear my name," and that he anticipated being "fully vindicated and exonerated." He confirmed that he would remain on the ballot in November. Collins will face Democrat Nate McMurray, who in the light of the allegations against the sitting congressman, may have more of a chance of victory in a solid Republican district than previously thought.
Collins was charged Wednesday by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Collins began the conference by outlining his career in business and politics. He highlighted his belief in Innate Immunotherapeutics and its efforts to find a cure for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. The congressman was a member of the company's board.
"I believe I acted properly and within the law at all times," Collins said. However, he did not address the allegations that he informed his son, Cameron, that a drug trial by Innate had failed, leading to alleged insider trading. He also did not discuss charges that he made false statements to the FBI.
"After today, I will not address any issues related to Innate Immunotherapeutics outside of the courtroom," Collins said at the close of the conference. He did not take any questions.
Collins also did not mention his removal from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce by House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who brought the charges against Collins, said in a press conference earlier on Wednesday that the congressman "placed his family and friends above the public good."
"Congressman Collins, who by virtue of his office helps to write the laws of our nation, acted as if the law did not apply to him," Berman said.
The indictment charges Collins, his son, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of his son's fiancee with conspiracy, wire fraud and other counts. Collins engaged in some of the alleged behavior while at the Congressional picnic at the White House in June 2017.
Collins and his co-defendants were arraigned Wednesday afternoon in New York City, where each of them pleaded not guilty. They were released on $500,000 bond, and are set to return to court in October.
House Speaker Paul Ryan removed Collins from his position Wednesday on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.