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Collins, with Pence's help, expects to raise $400,000 at WNY event

Rep. Chris Collins  spent more money on lawyers in the past three months than he raised for his re-election campaign.

But Collins no doubt got a substantial fundraising boost Tuesday when Vice President Pence traveled to Buffalo for a fundraiser for him at Salvatore's Italian Gardens.

"Congressman Collins is raising more than $400,000 in one event with the vice president, to add to a $1 million-plus war chest,'' said Christopher Grant, Collins' political adviser.

Live coverage: Vice President Mike Pence in Buffalo

Grant indicated Collins is in a strong position for his re-election bid.

"Democrats have already lost a candidate, can't find a new one, and have raised zero dollars for their supposed top target race. It takes serious money to counter lies and false attacks, and we will continue to aggressively defend the truth,'' Grant said.

The most recent federal filings showed that both Collins and Rep. Tom Reed of Corning still have substantial campaign chests. Collins had $1 million in campaign cash remaining as of Sept. 30, whereas Reed had $851,578.

Collins' campaign spent $162,823.27 between July and September on legal fees paid to Baker Hostetler, the Washington law firm that is defending him against ethics charges stemming from his involvement in a struggling Australian biotech firm. His campaign raised only $121,412 in the first quarter of the year, Collins revealed in a Federal Election Commission report he filed on Sunday.

The House Ethics Committee announced last week that it is continuing its investigation of Collins' connections with Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech firm in which Collins is the largest shareholder.

The committee also released a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, a nonpartisan investigative agency, that said the ethics panel should investigate two potential charges against Collins.

The ethics office said there is "substantial reason to believe" that Collins may have been involved in tipping off Innate investors about inside information that might persuade them to invest more money in the company.

In addition, the ethics office also said there is "substantial reason to believe" that, by persuading a National Institutes of Health scientist to help Innate on clinical trials of its multiple sclerosis drug, Collins may have violated a House rule that bars lawmakers from using their position to boost a company in which they have a substantial financial interest.

How biotech's miracle 'cure' became a poison pill for Chris Collins

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