LONSBERRY: Collins Must Resign

Chris Collins must go.

By the close of business.

He is my congressman, he is my friend, he is my party.

But he’s a crook and a liar, and he must resign. Chris Lee had no shirt; Chris Collins has no integrity.

This isn’t about which party holds the seat, it’s not about which party controls the House, it’s about the fact that Chris Collins is not worthy to hold public office, especially in the Congress of the United States.

What will happen if he resigns?

Nobody knows.

Maybe the governor calls a special election, maybe he doesn’t. Probably Chris Collins is on the ballot in November no matter what happens.

But this isn’t about that. This is about flushing the toilet. And a Democrat is better than a crook.

And that is exactly what Chris Collins is. Though he repeatedly said that he did not traffic in insider information, he did. And because he did, the circle of people around him ripped off other investors for some three-quarters of a million dollars.

He betrayed his office, he betrayed his constituents, he betrayed the stock market, he betrayed mom-and-pop investors who bought worthless stock from his confederates, and he betrayed his own family by leading it into criminal conduct.

He is scum.

And he is one more proof that the Republican Party’s habit of giving congressional nominations to rich candidates who will self-fund is insane. Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy pushed aside a dynamic and brilliant combat veteran in order to give the nomination to rich boy Chris Lee. That ended in scandal and disgrace. Then he pushed aside the same dynamic and brilliant combat veteran in order to give the nomination to rich boy Chris Collins.

And that ended in even bigger scandal and disgrace.

The further scandal and disgrace is the high likelihood the next rich boy is already waiting in the wings.

The dynamic and brilliant combat veteran, by the way, is David Bellavia – one of the highest decorated American soldiers in the Iraq war. He knocked doors and drove the district and paid his dues and got kicked in the teeth.

Because money mattered more than character.

David Bellavia must have seen special irony in Chris Collins’ fall.

Kathy Hochul might have seen something as well.

She is the lieutenant governor and Andrew Cuomo pushed hard twice to get her off the ballot, hoping instead to sideline her with a run for Congress against Collins, to regain a seat she once briefly held. But she pushed back, and insisted on staying on the statewide ticket.

And today she must see that that obstinance cost her a free ticket to Washington.

Instead, that ride might be taken by Grand Island Supervisor Nate McMurray who was, until about noon today, a sacrificial lamb.

That’s the politics of it.

But I don’t care about that.

I care about the principle of it.

And if we are a rule-of-law party when it’s illegals at the border, we must also be a rule-of-law party when it’s illegals in the cloakroom. And no one can be trusted to make the law if he does not obey the law.

What about innocent until proven guilty?

That’s about the accused’s relationship with the government. The government can’t punish anyone unless they are convicted in a court of criminal law.

But the court of public opinion is wired a little different.

Each of us is entitled and empowered to exercise our judgment however we will, according to whatever standard we choose. And as the federal officials went through the specifics of the charges against Chris Collins, there was no doubt about guilt or innocence. They have him dead to rights.

He is guilty as sin.

And that disqualifies him.

The time to resign is now. The time for the speaker of the House to call for his resignation is now. The time to take his name off the office door is now.

This isn’t because he supports Trump. It’s not because he opposes Cuomo. This isn’t about politics at all.

It’s about the fact that the first qualification for public office is integrity and goodness.

We are not tribalists defending our own. We are Americans demanding that those empowered by our votes be worthy of the blood and struggle that gave us those votes. Holding office is a sacred thing in a republic, and Chris Collins has proven himself unworthy. There are no other considerations.

He must resign – now.


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