(CNN)New York Rep. Chris Collins surged into the national consciousness on Wednesday, when he was indicted on charges of insider trading in relation to a company named Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, a company in which he is the largest shareholder and, until relatively recently, served on its board. Collins denies the charges but, in the immediate aftermath of the indictment, he was removed from the House Energy and Commerce Committee by Speaker Paul Ryan.
Why Chris Collins' indictment was a very long time coming
The question is: What's next? Collins has insisted he will run again. Republicans are in a wait and see mode. And Democrats sense opportunity.
I reached out to Nick Reisman, a reporter with Capital Tonight in Albany to talk about Collins, the district and, of course, Trump. Our conversation, conducted via email and lightly edited for flow, is below.
Cillizza: How expected (or unexpected) was this indictment?
Reisman: This was not out of the blue at all. Questions surrounding Chris Collins' business dealings with the Australian pharmaceutical firm Innate Immunotherapeutics have been the subject of a House Ethics investigation that ultimately concluded there was "substantial" reason to believe he violated rules, standards of conduct and potentially federal law.
That was way back in October of last year and the investigation itself had been launched in July. But even before that, Collins' ethics troubles have been fodder for his opponents, both locally in western New York and by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. During this time, Collins has derided media reports surrounding his potential violation of the STOCK Act as "fake news" and even appealed to donors based on the negative press attention, seeking campaign contributions. He is not a fan of The Buffalo News, which has done good work charting some of his business interests, including his ties to ZeptoMetrix Corp. The News reported in January that Collins was being sued by the firm's former CEO who alleged, among other things, Collins was paying more than $500,000 to phantom employees and urged auditors to issue favorable reports. Collins has dismissed the allegations in the lawsuit and said that former executive is merely disgruntled.
A recurring theme running through Collins' political career has been his business dealings. But his stated business acumen has been a source of pride. He's repeatedly cited in interviews that he's undergone training through the Six Sigma method.
Despite all of these ethics questions, Collins remained in good graces with the Trump administration. In October 2017, Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Buffalo for a fundraiser to help boost Collins.
Cillizza: Collins is known in DC for being a Trump guy. What's his reputation in the district?
Reisman: He's known for being a Trump guy. This district is Trump country in New York. The President won the