BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy said he found out around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday that federal prosecutors were bringing insider trading charges against GOP Congressman Chris Collins.
"Disbelief," Langworthy said. "I mean, we really thought that most of those issues with Innate were in the past and to hear that he was going to be brought up on very serious charges in the indictment, I was just absolutely shocked."
Well over 24 hours later, the party boss said he still hadn't spoken with Collins about the indictment, but he was aware of the congressman's public statements vowing to fight the charges and continue his campaign for reelection.
"I take him at his word that he intends to remain a candidate for re-election but he does control his own destiny on that. He is the only one who could end his campaign and remove himself from the ballot," Langworthy said.
He believes there would be a mechanism to remove Collins from the ballot. Langworthy said his priority is to make sure a conservative Republican who supports the president's agenda wins the seat.
"Obviously this is very distracting. I mean, I find it difficult for Congressman Collins to move forward without answering questions about something," he said.
Langworthy said a lot of stakeholders in his party are having discussions about what comes next and at some point he expects to have that discussion with the congressman.
He wouldn't say whether he'd ask the congressman to resign.