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

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

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

We want to hear from you. How are you reacting? Do you have a message for the winner? Let us know by filling out the form below, send us an email at talk@motherjones.com, or leave us a voicemail at (510) 519-MOJO. We may use some of your responses in a follow-up story.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.