These 13 Republicans are keeping disgraced felon Chris Collins' PAC money


Collins resigned from Congress on Monday and pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Last year, then-Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) was indicted on charges of insider trading after he allegedly made illegal stock trades from his mobile phone white attending a June 2017 Congressional Picnic at the White House.

After a year of denials, Collins resigned his House seat on Monday and pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts: conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making a false statement to the FBI. He is now a convicted felon.

Before departing Congress, Collins established a "leadership PAC" to help bankroll like-minded Republicans to Congress. The Congressional House Republicans In Service (CHRIS) PAC has raised and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2014 to help him build up his influence within the House.

Through CHRIS PAC, Collins distributed at least $30,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and tens of thousands more to GOP colleagues and candidates. While many of the candidates he funded have been defeated or have retired, at least 13 are still in Congress.

They include:

  1. Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ): $1,000 in the 2014 campaign cycle.
  2. Senator Todd Young (R-IN): $2,000 in the 2016 campaign cycle.
  3. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY): $4,500 in the 2018 campaign cycle.
  4. Rep. John Bergman (R-MI): $2,000 in the 2018 campaign cycle.
  5. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL): $1,000 in the 2014 campaign cycle.
  6. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA): $1,000 in the 2016 campaign cycle.
  7. Rep. John Katko (R-NY): $1,000 in the 2016 campaign cycle.
  8. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL): $1,000 in the 2018 campaign cycle.
  9. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY): $2,000 in the 2014 campaign cycle.
  10. Rep. Elsie Stefanik (R-NY): $3,000 total in the 2014 and 2016 campaign cycles.
  11. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI): $2,600 in the 2014 campaign cycle.
  12. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN): $2,000 in the 2014 campaign cycle.
  13. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY): $2,000 in the 2016 campaign cycle.

As of the most recent campaign finance filings, none had returned the cash.

Efforts to reach each of these lawmakers through their congressional offices and their campaigns to ask whether they planned to divest the funds were not immediately successful. The NRCC also did not respond to inquiries about the Collins money.

In recent years, the NRCC has demanded Democratic lawmakers return "dirty money" from an array of donors including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — none of whom have been convicted of anything.

At least one lawmaker did donate the funds he'd received from Collins: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) announced in August 2018 that he would give the $3,000 he'd received from Collins to a community group that works to combat addiction.

When he was indicted, many Republicans stood by Collins, who was Donald Trump's first congressional endorser and his self-described "liaison" to Congress. Trump even attacked his own handpicked attorney general for indicating a "popular Republican."

Nick Vachon contributed reporting for this story.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.