Democratic congressional candidate Nathan McMurray said late Sunday that Rep. Chris Collins repeatedly tried to mislead voters in a Buffalo News interview in which the Republican congressman from Clarence argued that his indictment on felony charges would not hamper his efforts to serve constituents if he is re-elected.
Most notably, McMurray disputed Collins' notion that if he's re-elected, his job will be "the same as ever" as he awaits his Feb. 3, 2020, criminal trial.
"He's going to be so preoccupied by this that he's not going to be a part-time congressman; he's going to be a no-time congressman," McMurray, a corporate lawyer and the Grand Island town supervisor, said in a telephone interview.
The News' story was based on the paper's first extended interview with Collins since his Aug. 8 indictment on charges that he prompted a series of illegal insider stock trades in a June 2017 cellphone call to his son Cameron that the lawmaker made from the White House lawn.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan say Collins tipped off his son about bad news that would wreck the stock price of a company they were invested in called Innate Immunotherapeutics, prompting his son to dump his stock and avoid $570,900 in losses. Chris Collins, Cameron Collins and Stephen Zarsky – Cameron Collins' future father-in-law – all face charges of fraud, conspiracy and lying to the FBI in the case.
While Collins is pushing his alliance with President Trump in campaign appearances, "it's President Trump's own Justice Department that says he's a liar," McMurray said.
He noted that Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Republican appointed by Trump, called a news conference where he said Collins "acted as if the law did not apply to him."
Legal experts have said the case could land Collins in prison for eight years or more.
As a result, "the pressure to defend himself is going to be enormous," McMurray said.
Collins claims he is innocent and vows to fight the criminal charges.
Noting that Collins has said McMurray couldn't be elected dog catcher in Grand Island now, and that the congressman has dismissed his opponent as "a no-name," McMurray said: "I'm going to stand up for the dog catchers, the no-names, and everyone that calls the district home."