Republican Congressman Chris Collins Was Indicted for Insider Trading. He Was Reelected Anyway.

Democratic rival Nate McMurray was unable to “break the machine.”

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Zuma

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Less than three months after FBI agents arrested him on charges of insider trading, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) was reelected for a fourth term in Congress. His opponent, Democrat Nate McMurray, conceded the race Tuesday night. (Hours later, McMurray announced he was “going to demand a recount” as he only trailed Collins by less than 3,000 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting.) 

Collins, once considered a remarkably safe incumbent with an unimpeachable perch in New York’s most conservative district, found himself in a surprisingly competitive race this fall with McMurray, a folksy small town supervisor who received an influx of cash from small donors and the national Democratic Party after news of Collins’ indictment rattled the region in August. While Collins stayed away from the campaign trail, McMurray was joined on the stump by former Vice President Joe Biden. Even Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez ventured to western New York to campaign for McMurray. 

But in the end, McMurray’s insurgent campaign, which embraced the motto “break the machine,” could not defeat Collins, whose February 2016 bet, as the first congressman to endorse Donald Trump, paid off handsomely. Trump ended up winning New York’s 27th District by more than 24 points

After briefly suspending his reelection bid in August, Collins made his case to voters for a fourth term in Congress the following month in a controversial ad that depicted his rival speaking Korean and stated (without evidence) that McMurray “helped American companies hire foreign workers.” In response to the ad, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), called Collins an “embarrassment to the House of Representatives.” The ad, incidentally, was one of Collins’ only acknowledgements of his opponent during a campaign in which he avoided media interviews and refused to debate McMurray. 

Collins, who served as a member of the House Energy and Commerce committee but was stripped of committee assignments by Speaker Paul Ryan after his arrest, is expected to remain in legal jeopardy until at least February 2020, when his federal trial is scheduled to begin

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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