The Buffalo News reported this weekend that Buffalo-area Congressman Chris Collins had been promoting the brother of one of his business partners, Buffalo developer Nick Sinatra, as a nominee for a vacant federal judgeship, and that President Donald Trump had forwarded the recommendation to New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Collins is already under investigation by the House Committee on Ethics after the independent Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” that Collins both shared non-public information about clinical trials at an Australian biotech firm where he sits on the board of directors with potential investors and that he used his government position to assist that company.
We reported on Collins’ Buffalo-area business partners and donors who were invited to take part in a private stock offering for Innate Immunotherapeutics, the firm at the center of the OCE investigation, in May.
Now it appears as if Collins is using his influence within the Trump administration (Collins was the first Congressman to endorse Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign) to reward another of his business connections.
John Sinatra, a partner at the elite Buffalo law firm Hodgson Russ, is the brother of real estate developer Nick Sinatra.
Nick Sinatra has donated more than $10,000 to Collins since he first ran for Congress in 2012, and Collins is a partner in many of Sinatra’s real estate deals. According to Collins’ personal financial disclosures, he has between $3 million and $13.5 million invested in six Sinatra & Co real estate projects and has lent between $1 million and $1.5 million to the development company. These donations and deals can be seen in the map embedded below.
John Sinatra donated $1,000 to Collins and another $1,000 to Collins’ joint fundraising committee, according to Federal Election Commission records.
As PAI’s Rob Galbraith told the Buffalo News, John Sinatra’s potential nomination raises a critical question: “Is it his legal proficiency or his brother’s relationships with Chris Collins and Donald Trump that qualifies him for the position?”