Chris Collins has made millions in the private sector, investing in companies and turning them around.
Rep. Kathy Hochul's campaign has attacked her Republican challenger by focusing on a small company he started that sells products made in China and elsewhere.
A television commercial and corresponding website, collinscostsjobs.com, ties Collins' success in business to his dealings in China.
While some of the ad's claims are accurate, it leaves the viewer with the impression that Collins is shipping jobs to China and is getting rich from it. On the whole, the ad is somewhat misleading.
Hochul, of Hamburg, and Collins, of Clarence, are campaigning in a Republican-leaning district that includes suburban and rural areas between Buffalo and Rochester.
Collins, a one-term Erie County executive, has painted Hochul, who has held public office since she was appointed to the Hamburg Town Board in 1994, as a "public sector millionaire," while Hochul has taken aim at Collins for his business record, among other things.
Hochul's 30-second ad uses an older white man and graphics with accurate quotes from Collins to give "the real story" about Collins and jobs.
The Collins campaign notes that the candidate has invested in many local companies, creating or retaining 500 jobs, and that the business the ad discusses, Ingenious Products, hasn't been successful.
Claim: "Chris Collins recently started a new company. The work is done in China."
Fact: This statement is partially true. Collins started Ingenious Products in 2008, registered to his home in Clarence, according to business records on file with the Department of State. Collins told The Buffalo News in August that he created the company to invest in and distribute clever products, not to manufacture them. The company's website indicates that its products are manufactured in Oregon, South Korea and Yantai Shandong Province, which is in China.
The Collins campaign said that the company employs two part-time workers in Western New York and that the products are sold in the United States.
Claim: "Chris Collins said it would not be feasible to make and package that product for $7 in the U.S."
Fact: This statement is true. Collins told The Buffalo News in August that it would be too expensive to manufacture Ingenious Products' Balance Buddy, which helps parents teach their children to ride bikes, in the United States.
Claim: "How does China do it? Chris Collins says China cheats by manipulating their currency, which gives them a cost advantage."
Fact: This statement is true. In an interview about his platform, Collins in June told the Batavian, a news website, that China cheats by manipulating its currency.
Claim: "China cheats, we lose jobs, and Chris Collins makes more money."
Fact: This claim is misleading. Collins has said that China cheats. He told The Buffalo News in August that Ingenious Products was not one of his successful investments, but that he was looking for other "Ingenious-type products" to invest in. He also said Ingenious Products has two employees, both of whom have other jobs, and that if production were moved to the United States, it wouldn't create many jobs.
Campaign adviser Chris Grant said that Collins has not made money on the business, though he didn't have specifics on the company's balance sheet.
Claim: Collinscostsjobs.com says Ingenious Products "sent jobs to China."
Fact: This claim is false. The jobs were already there. The Balance Buddy was made in China before Collins invested in it.
"This ad is clearly a sign of a desperate campaign and a candidate that knows they have no record on job creation," Grant said, adding that Collins has never outsourced jobs and once brought jobs that were in Mexico to the United States.
Following this ad, the Collins campaign released an ad featuring people who work in Collins' companies, crediting Collins with giving them their jobs.