Indicted GOP congressman Chris Collins resigns ahead of expected guilty plea

Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), once a close ally of President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE, resigned from office Monday, one day before he was expected to plead guilty to insider trading charges in federal court.

A spokesman for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNorth Dakota Republican latest House breakthrough COVID-19 case Pelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump MORE (D-Calif.) confirmed that Collins had submitted his letter of resignation, which will officially take effect Tuesday when the letter will be filed during a House pro forma session.


Collins's letter was also sent to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who will decide whether to call a special election or leave the seat vacant until the November 2020 general election.

Some GOP lawmakers suggested the move would allow the party to focus its efforts elsewhere.

“I’m glad to see this resolved. The seat should now be off the competitive list as it is Trump territory,” said one New York Republican closely watching Collins's case. “This saves us a lot of money and resources which can now go elsewhere in the country to further the cause.”

The sudden resignation marks a dramatic downfall for Collins, who was first elected to Congress in 2012. He later became the first member of Congress to endorse Trump in the crowded 2016 GOP presidential primary.

To reporters on Capitol Hill, Collins was know for providing colorful quotes about Trump, often in reaction to the president's latest controversy. But his career trajectory took a turn after he was overheard by reporters in the Speaker’s lobby on Capitol Hill bragging about "how many millionaires I've made in Buffalo."

The Hill reported in 2017 that Collins boasted about how he made his fellow members of Congress rich off an Australian pharmaceutical company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, where he served on the board of directors and was the largest shareholder.

Congressional ethics investigations followed. In August 2018, Collins, his son Cameron and the father of Cameron’s fiancée were arrested and indicted on federal charges of trading Innate stock using non-public information.

Innate has tried unsuccessfully to develop a drug to fight advanced multiple sclerosis. Prosecutors alleged that Collins gave nonpublic information about negative drug-trial results to his son to help him "make timely trades in Innate stock and tip others."

All three men previously pleaded not guilty but are expected to reverse their plea in a Tuesday court hearing. The plea deal eliminates the need for a trial, which had been scheduled for February.

Collins, 69, was narrowly reelected in the 2018 midterm elections, winning by less than 1 percentage point after defeating his 2016 opponent by more than 30 points and his 2014 opponent by nearly 40 points.

Collins's 2018 opponent, Nathan McMurray, said in August that he would run for the seat again in 2020, but Collins’s resignation now makes it more likely the deep-red seat in upstate New York will stay in GOP hands.

“The real victims of Collins' crimes are the people of his district that he repeatedly lied to about his guilt,” McMurray said in a statement Monday. “Collins and Republican party insiders robbed his constituents of the representation they need on important issues like the rising cost of healthcare, the opioid epidemic, and the fight for good paying jobs.”

A Federal Election Commission filing in April indicated no individual donors gave to Collins in the first quarter of 2019. Roll Call reported on Friday that half of Collins’s 14-person staff had left his office since his indictment.

Updated at 3:11 p.m.