Indicted House candidates Collins, Hunter experience steep drop-off in contributions

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Rep. Duncan Hunter (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

August indictments against incumbent House candidates Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) heavily disrupted their campaigns — specifically in the area of campaign contributions — as donors appeared to lose enthusiasm after their candidates were charged with federal crimes.

Chris Collins

no deposit bonus” alt=”” width=”175″ height=”226″>Collins — who was charged with insider-trading and lying to federal investigators in August — received less than $33,000 in campaign contributions from July through September, according to third quarter FEC filings.

That’s a far cry from the more than $1.2 million he collected in the first two quarters. From his indictment on Aug. 8 to Sept. 30, Collins received just 10 contributions in total, adding up to a meager $2,405.

Collins initially suspended his bid for a fourth term as New York 27th Congressional District Representative after his indictment but re-launched it one month later.

On the flipside, the news provided a big boost to Collins’ Democratic opponent Nate McMurray. He raised $519,846 in the most recent quarter, up from $133,624 through the first two.

Also in the race is third-party candidate Larry Piegza, who entered the race as another conservative, pro-Trump option for those not wanting to vote for Collins. Piegza raised $266,674 as of Sept. 30, though all but $674 came out of his own pocket. 

Despite the drop-off, Collins has still substantially outraised his opponents. He is favored to win by three points in the most recent Siena poll.

In a signal that Democratic groups might not see the deep-red upstate New York seat as particularly winnable, outside groups have not put pressure on Collins. Only $861 has been spent in opposition to Collins by nonprofit group Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund.

Collins in August pleaded not guilty to the charge that he engaged in a trading scheme involving an Australian biotechnology company. He faces trial in February 2020.

Duncan Hunter

In his race to hold the California 50th District seat, no deposit bonus” alt=”” width=”175″ height=”219″>Hunter was already being outraised by Democratic opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar, but August charges related to the misuse of $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses significantly widened the funding gap.

After raising $848,349 in the first two quarters, Hunter collected a small sum of $132,531 from July through September.

Hunter saw a majority of his third-quarter money — approximately $69,605 — come in after the Aug. 21 indictments. The dollars come in despite specific allegations from the Department of Justice that Hunter consistently used campaign money to pay for vacations, video games and even airfare for the family’s pet rabbit, among other things.

Campa-Najjar saw a huge bump in the third quarter, raising more than $1.4 million compared to just over $1 million in the first two quarters.

Even with more than 60 counts — including wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy — charged against Hunter, he leads by 15 points in the most recent Monmouth poll.

Therefore, outside spending has been paltry in the Republican-leaning suburban district. Democratic group PowerPAC Plus is the only big spender, pledging $100,000 in support of Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Like Collins, Hunter pleaded not guilty to his charges. His trial was pushed back to after the election.

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