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Facts' distorted on Collins in executive roles; Democratic PAC misleads
 on issues of jobs, contract

A new ad attacking Republican Chris Collins conjures an image of a self-serving businessman and tries to use Collins' record as Erie County executive against him.
The claims in the ad are misleading.

The ad, "Now Hiring," is paid for by the House Majority PAC, a Democratic "super" political action committee that can raise more money from donors than a candidate's campaign is allowed to do.

Collins, of Clarence, is seeking to replace Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Hamburg, in the Republican-leaning 27th District, which includes suburban and rural areas between Buffalo and Rochester.

Claim: "As county executive, Collins gave jobs to his friends, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars."

Fact: This claim is misleading. Collins hired people he knew before his 2007 election for key positions in his administration but brought them in at lower salaries than their predecessors. Many came from the private sector.

Claim: "Collins awarded his own company a lucrative county contract."

Fact: This claim is somewhat misleading. The company, Volland Electric Equipment, ultimately withdrew its bid, after news reports about the contract. Volland was the low bidder on a contract to fix motors for the Erie County sewer district and was provisionally awarded the bid.

Bid rules for services such as those that Volland offered require a municipality to choose the lowest responsible bidder.

A 2009 county comptroller's report said auditors could find no evidence of undue influence from Collins in awarding the bid to Volland, but it raised other questions.

The bid award to Volland also did not originally go through the County Legislature but went straight to the state-appointed financial control board. Then-County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz and the Collins administration disagreed about whether the Legislature should have been consulted.

Volland had had county contracts previously, before Collins was elected.
The "lucrative" claim is subjective. The 2009 contract was for up to $90,000 in work and represented less than 1 percent of Volland's annual business, according to a Collins representative.

During his tenure as county executive Collins did not handle day-to-day operations of the company, in which he owns a minority stake.

Collins' businesses, including Volland, did not bid on future county work while he was in office after questions were raised about the Volland bid.

Claim: "[Collins] had products manufactured overseas, creating jobs in Korea and China, jobs we could really use in Western New York."

Fact: This claim is somewhat misleading. Collins has invested in a company that purchases and distributes products made in South Korea and China. The company, Ingenious Products, employs two part-time workers, who are based in Western New York. Collins has said that the products were made overseas before he invested in them and that they would be too expensive to make in the United States.

Claim: "Chris Collins. Creating jobs, but not for you, because he's only out for himself."

Fact: Collins has created or saved 500 jobs in Western New York by investing in struggling businesses, Collins has said. The rest of this claim is subjective.

Federal law prohibits Hochul or her campaign from having input into advertisements produced by outside groups such as the House Majority PAC.

The PAC has said that it will spend $500,000 on ads in the 27th District. The "Now Hiring" ad will run for two weeks, according to the PAC.



Results: Misleading