By Jerry Zremski
WASHINGTON -- You might think that the right wing would like Rep. Chris Collins, the reliably Republican representative from Clarence.
But for the second time this week, Collins finds himself under attack from a right-wing institution -- and the latest attack is a doozy.
In a story on National Review Online posted Wednesday night a former Collins staffer whom the congressman fired not only takes on Collins for his support of the Export-Import Bank -- which Heritage Action for America did earlier this week -- but also hints that Collins is a racist.
"I was briefly employed by Collins in 2013 but was terminated after three months and did not leave on good terms with the congressman," the former Collins staffer, Christine Sisto, wrote. "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."
Seeing this, Jim O'Donnell, a Democrat who is challenging Collins in November's election, pounced.
"I don’t know if these most recent allegations of racism are true, but I do know it is imperative that Chris Collins answers them immediately," O'Donnell said in a statement to the media. "I do know that the ability of congressmen and women to serve their country has nothing to do with their color."
To which Collins spokesman Grant Loomis replied: "It is sad to see a candidate use the false claims of a fired employee to score cheap political headlines. These allegations are absolute lies and proof that political silly season is upon us."
Sisto's allegation is vague, to say the least. Called for comment at the National Review Washington Bureau Thursday morning, Sisto said she would get back to The Buffalo News later in the day, but she never did.
It's also highly unusual, to say the least, for a reputable publication to allow someone who has been fired by an individual to then write something attacking that individual.
It seems we won't know why the National Review allowed that to happen. Tim Cavanaugh, the venerable conservative magazine's news editor, did not respond to a request for comment.
But Lee Coppola, the former dean of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at St. Bonaventure University, was happy to comment.
"It seems to me the National Review checked its journalistic ethics at the door," Coppola said. "A former staffer editorializing on her one-time employer in a critical piece of reporting does a disservice to any entity that supposedly holds itself out as covering national issues fairly and accurately."