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Rep. Chris Collins. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo) Rep. Chris Collins. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo)

Rep. Chris Collins. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo)

Jill Terreri Ramos
By Jill Terreri Ramos May 31, 2019

There's no evidence Chris Jacobs is a 'Never Trumper'

Rep. Chris Collins responded to the news that state Sen. Chris Jacobs, a fellow Republican, plans to run for his seat in 2020, by criticizing Jacobs on several fronts and repeating the claim that Jacobs is a "Never Trumper."

"With the radical Left laser-focused on resistance and obstruction, President Trump needs allies in Congress now more than ever," Collins wrote in a fundraising email on May 21, 2019. "Chris Jacobs may act like he’s that type of ally – but in reality, he’s a Never-Trumper who will say and do anything to get elected to his next office."

Collins, of Clarence, is facing federal charges of insider trading and has been stripped of his committee assignments by Republican leadership in the House of Representatives. A trial is scheduled for early 2020. Collins hasn’t said whether he will run in 2020, but he is playing up his strong support for President Trump in the face of Jacobs’ announcement that he will seek the seat. Collins was among the first members of Congress to endorse Trump and has appeared many times on national television to support the president.

Since Collins has several times repeated his claim that Jacobs is a "Never Trumper," we wanted to know whether it was true.

A Democratic district

Jacobs says that he voted for Trump and supports his agenda, but Jacobs didn't trumpet his support during the 2016 campaign. At the time, Jacobs was running for New York Sate Senate in the 60th District, where Democrats had a significant enrollment advantage and only 26 percent of voters were registered Republicans.  

We reached out to a Collins staff member seeking evidence supporting the claim, but over two days they did not respond. The Collins fundraising email contains a clip of a September 2016 interview with Jacobs on the state political television show Capital Tonight. In it, host Liz Benjamin asks Jacobs whether he is supporting Trump. Jacobs ducked the question

"I am 100 percent focused on my campaign," he said. "I’m running for state office and that’s what all my efforts are going on right now. I just finished the primary and as you said, this is going to be a steep hill to run this year, and that’s all I’m focused on."    

Featured Fact-check

During the 2016 primary campaign, Jacobs, of Buffalo, donated to several Republicans, but not Trump. He gave to the presidential campaigns or political action committees supporting former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, according to federal election data.

He also gave to Collins for Congress, the same campaign that is now attacking him, as well as the New York Republican Federal Campaign Committee and former House Speaker John Boehner.

Late in the 2016 campaign, after the now-famous Access Hollywood tape was released in which Trump referred to grabbing women's genitalia, Jacobs said Trump’s remarks were "not presidential."

Nick Reisman at the blog New York State of Politics quoted Jacobs saying "I’m appalled and disgusted at these statements made by Mr. Trump. They are unacceptable and most certainly not presidential," he said. "There is never any excuse for objectifying or demeaning women."

In 2017, after Trump took office, Jacobs was critical of Trump’s response to the opioid abuse crisis, saying the president should declare a national emergency.

Our ruling

Collins called Jacobs a "Never Trumper," using the present-tense. 

While Jacobs dodged questions of whether he supported Trump during the 2016 election and has been occasionally critical of him, there is no evidence that he is or was a "Never Trumper," a label given typically to Republicans and conservatives who are outspoken that they opposed Trump’s candidacy and are opposed to his campaign for re-election. Jacobs today says that he supports Trump and his agenda.

We rate Collins’ claim False.

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PolitiFact rating logo PolitiFact Rating:
Chris Jacobs is a "Never Trumper"
in a fundraising email
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Our Sources

Collins for Congress fundraising email, May 21, 2019. Accessed May 22, 2019.

Video clip, interview with Chris Jacobs, Capital Tonight, Sept. 15, 2016, via YouTube. Accessed May 23, 2019.  

Full interview, Chris Jacobs, Capital Tonight, Spectrum News, Sept. 15, 2016. Accessed May 23, 2019.   

"Jacobs dodges on Trump, Flanagan," New York State of Politics blog, Sept. 16, 2016. Accessed May 23, 2019.

"Collins goes on political offensive after Jacobs announces run," The Buffalo News, May 24, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2019.

"Chris Jacobs Goes Negative," The Public, Oct. 28, 2016. Accessed May 23, 2019.

Campaign contribution data, 2016 election cycle, Federal Election Commission. Accessed May 23, 2019.

Voter enrollment statistics by Senate district, New York State Board of Elections, Nov. 1, 2016. Accessed May 23, 2019.

"Republicans close ranks at Trump fundraiser in Buffalo," The Buffalo News, Jan. 4, 2017. Accessed May 23, 2019.

"Collins lawyers try to bar jury from seeing his bills that ‘might affect Innate,’" The Buffalo News, May 21, 2019. Accessed May 23, 2019.

"Trump lands his first congressional endorsements," Politico, Feb. 24, 2016. Accessed May 23, 2019.

"Speaker Ryan Strips Chris Collins of Committee Membership," Roll Call, Aug. 8, 2018. Accessed May 24, 2019.

Email, phone conversation, Cam Savage, spokesman, Chris Jacobs, May 22, May 23, 2019.

Daily Kos Elections' presidential results by congressional district for 2016, 2012, and 2008, Daily Kos, Nov. 19, 2012. Accessed May 24, 2019.

"Collins continues attacks on Jacobs," Niagara Gazette, May 21, 2019. Accessed May 24, 2019.

"Jacobs Criticizes Trump Decision Not To Declare Opioid Crisis A National Emergency," New York State of Politics blog, Aug. 10, 2017. Accessed May 24, 2019.
"Trump Tape To Remain Issue For Democrats," New York State of Politics blog, Oct. 10, 2016. Accessed May 24, 2019.

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