GOP Rep. Chris Collins resigns, pleads guilty to insider trading

The House of Representatives is short one more member after a Republican congressman submitted his resignation in disgrace, a day before pleading guilty to insider trading in federal court.

According to The Associated Press, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office confirmed that she had received the resignation of Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) on Monday, Sept. 30. 

The ex-congressman is now reportedly asking friends and associates to write letters of recommendation ahead of his scheduled January sentencing, hoping for leniency.

The indictment, resignation, and ultimate guilty plea from Collins garnered quite a bit of attention from the media largely due to the fact that Collins was one of the first members of Congress to openly support then-candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

Resignation ahead of guilty plea

Collins, whose district covers the Buffalo, New York area, pleaded guilty on Oct. 1 to charges of insider trading that were leveled against him, his son, and the father of his son’s fiance 14 months earlier.

Cameron Collins, 26, and his fiancee’s father, Stephen Zarsky, each pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy. All three had initially pleaded not guilty when the indictments were first been unsealed in 2018.

The federal charges all three faced included conspiracy, securities and wire fraud, and lying to investigators. The charges stemmed from an alleged insider trading scheme in which Collins tipped off the others of impending bad news for a company in which they were invested.

Insider tip

Collins, a successful businessman before being elected to Congress, was on the board of Australia-based biotech pharmaceutical company Innate Immunotheraeutics, which was developing a new drug to treat multiple sclerosis.

In 2017, the congressman learned that the experimental drug had failed clinical trials, and passed on the devastating news for the company to his son, who proceeded to dump all of his shares of Innate stock.

The son then passed that information along to Zarsky, who also dumped his stock in the company.

Had the three men not changed their not guilty pleas to guilty, a trial was scheduled to commence on Feb. 3.

Special election

With Collins now having resigned his seat in Congress, it will be up to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call for a special election to fill the vacant seat for the duration until a replacement can be voted on in the upcoming 2020 election.

There are a number of Republicans that will likely attempt to win that seat and keep the solidly red district in the GOP column. Collins barely won re-election in 2018 over his Democratic challenger, though it must be pointed out that he was running without the support of his party and with the federal indictment hanging over his head.

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