Indicted US Rep. Collins: I’m running, will serve if elected

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Indicted U.S. Rep. Chris Collins said Wednesday he’ll campaign for his western New York seat, vowing to serve if voters re-elect him in November.

The Republican’s announcement on Twitter came two days after he said he would remain on the ballot despite previously suspending his campaign in the wake of federal insider trading charges.

“Voters can be assured that with the recent turn of events, they can count on me to actively campaign for Congress, and to serve should voters re-elect me,” the 68-year-old Collins tweeted.

He added that the stakes “are too high” to allow a Democrat to take control of his congressional seat representing the 27th District, a right-leaning district between Buffalo and Rochester.

Collins wrote that he’ll actively campaign for election to a third term while fighting the federal charges filed last month. He faces Democrat Nate McMurray.

Local GOP leaders who were expecting to replace Collins with another candidate said they were blindsided by his decision to remain on the ballot.

Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said Collins told him Monday morning that he was staying on the ballot. Collins suggested during a phone call that removing himself from the ballot could undermine his legal defense, Langworthy said.

Collins, a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, has a $1.3 million campaign war chest.

Collins pleaded not guilty in early August to charges that allege he illegally leaked confidential information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited to his son and the father of his son’s fiancée. At that time he suspended his re-election bid.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.