A Republican congressman from upstate New York who is known for, well, not much of anything, is attempting to discredit Heritage Action, the political branch of the Heritage Foundation. The result is cringe-inducing.
Heritage Action blasted Congressman Chris Collins, who represents New York’s 27th District, for apparently engaging in textbook cronyism. Collins, a millionaire many times over, is circulating a letter in Congress in support of re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank, from which one of his businesses, Audubon Machinery Corporation, has benefited in the past. Collins is a co-founder of and serves on the board of directors for Audubon.
A Heritage Action spokesman told The Hill, “Here’s Rep. Collins leading the charge of an entity that he’s personally benefited from. That’s the definition of Washington working for itself.”
Collins responded, “This shows how out of touch Heritage is with how jobs are created in this country. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re a think tank. They’re not out in the real world.”
I was briefly employed by Collins in 2013 but was terminated after three months and did not leave on good terms with the congressman. My impression was that Collins had a steep congressional learning curve. His staff had to coach him to talk less about himself to constituents, and at one point he asked about “a black” being on a Congressional committee after being told that the committee included several minority leaders.
Collins also made a conscious effort not to ruffle any conservative feathers, and he does not have a seat on the House Financial Services Committee.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has called the Export-Import Bank “the face of cronyism.”
Most conservative Republicans do not support re-authorizing the bank. Collins, who almost always votes straight down the Republican line, is one of the few exceptions. A spokesman for the Congressman told The Hill that Audubon has not recently received a direct loan from the bank. Collins regularly touts smaller government, which makes it hard to understand why he would choose to make the Ex-Im Bank his one major battle.
— Christine Sisto is an editorial associate at National Review Online.