Recently discovered court documents connected to federal insider trading case of Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, claim Western New York political consultant Chris Grant sold shares of Australian biopharmaceutical company Innate Immunotherapeutics in June 2017, just before the stock plummeted.
According to the affidavit obtained by Spectrum News and first reported by WKBW, Grant avoided losing more than $11,000. Grant has worked both directly for Collins, as his congressional chief of staff, and later consulted for him through his company Big Dog Strategies.
The company currently consults for Republican-endorsed Erie County Executive candidate Lynne Dixon, a registered Independent.
“If you are going to run to be a representative of the people in any office, and I’m not just talking about county executive, I’m talking about any office, you need to be held to the highest ethical standards and your staff needs to be held to the highest ethical standards,” Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Friday called for Dixon and any other public official with ties to Grant to cut them. Spectrum News has been told Grant, who has not been charged with a crime, does not plan to leave the campaign.
“I don’t expect Chris Grant to resign but it’s not up to Chris Grant to resign. It’s up to Lynne Dixon to do the right thing,” Poloncarz said.
The county executive also pointed out Grant’s house was raided by federal agents in connection to allegations which ultimately led to the corruption convictions of Democratic political operative Steve Pigeon and a federal judge. Grant has not been charged in that investigation either.
Through Big Dog Strategies, Grant has served as Dixon’s primary spokesperson, but Friday the campaign released a statement from Bryan Fiume, who also serves as the associate Deputy Erie County comptroller. Another Big Dog employee was listed as the media contact.
Fiume called Poloncarz “desperate” and his claims “preposterous” and pointed out the county executive has a history of disgraced hires himself, like former Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger, who was convicted of raping another county employee.
Poloncarz said when he found out about those allegations he immediately launched an investigation and called for the commissioner’s resignation before he was even charged.
“Would I have hired him if I knew he was going to have a situation where he would have raped an employee? Of course not,” Poloncarz said. “We never would have hired him. He had a clean resume, a clean background and as I said, Lynne Dixon actually seconded his nomination at the Legislature.”
According to the affidavit, developer Gerald Buchheit was also among the Collins associates who dumped Innate stock. Buchheit and his company have made campaign contributions to numerous politicians, including Dixon.
Since 2017, he’s donated more than $15,000 to Poloncarz as well.
“I’m going to return every donation that Mr. Buchheit has made in the last year,” he said.
State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs also called on Dixon to “denounce and disassociate” herself with Grant. He said a culture of corruption “permeates the Erie County Republican Committee.”
ECRC Chair Nick Langworthy is the incoming GOP State Party chairman.