By Alan S. Chartock | August 18, 2018

So New York 27th District Representative, Chris Collins, has suspended his campaign after having given a blazingly fast reaction speech to his indictment on federal charges of insider trading. That’s the very type of charge that got Martha Stewart sentenced to prison. She’s still very popular so apparently she was not hurt in the long run by these charges. It remains to be seen whether Collins will suffer for allegedly tipping off his relatives that they should dump their stock in his publicly traded Innate Immunotherapeutics after a failed drug trial. The Australian company had been working on a cure for an MS related disease.

One of my favorite sayings is, “That’s how they get you!” Let’s face it, the stock market is in many ways like the Wild West. Rumors, sometimes based on real information, sometimes not, abound and public stocks rise and fall as a result. But when a famous person is involved, one of the ways the proper authorities can control things is to hang them out to dry. The Internal Revenue people do the same thing with tax cheats, except maybe when they are the President. Obviously, this is a reminder to all the rest of us working slobs to make sure that we obey the rules.

Nevertheless, Collins made a stab at it. He immediately gave a press conference following his indictment in which he vigorously defended himself and said that he would continue his campaign. He was quick to turn that around.

Let’s remember that his district is very, very red, and no matter what we are being told by various pundits, my bet is that he would have won reelection. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when Mr. Collins was being discussed. The Republicans have a lot to lose here. Collins was the first Congressman to endorse Donald Trump for President. Apparently he has some fellow Congressmen who invested in the same stock. I’ll bet they want him out of the mix.

Not only that, with Trump confidant Paul Manafort on trial, no matter what the outcome of this present judicial contest and a lot of indictments coming out of the office of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the last thing that the Republicans need as they try to hold onto their present majority status is a one more accused crook to defend. One can only guess how the Republican big shots started to counsel Collins about getting out of town. In any case, he will have to remove himself both from the Republican and Independent lines and will have to be replaced by a more viable Republican.

It is interesting that the federal prosecutor who brought the charges, Geoffrey Berman, was himself personally vetted by Donald Trump after Trump had fired Preet Bharara from his job as the head man at the Southern District of New York. His basic argument was that no one individual, no matter how powerful, is above the law. One can only wonder how those sentiments were heard in a White House whose present occupant has still not released his tax returns, although it hard to believe that Robert Mueller hasn’t seen them.

So Chris Collins, who has been at war with Andrew Cuomo, is in disgrace and may well end up in jail. If he can’t get himself off the ballot and is forced to not campaign whether his people want him to or not, he may still win and be elected despite the fact that he is under federal criminal indictment. It would not be the first time that has happened.

Of course, the up to now quiet Democratic establishment has been quick to offer solace to the Democrat, Nate McMurray, running in the race under the theory that this is an opportunity not to be lost. My bet is that they now wish they had a better candidate.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].