Ethics panel: 'Substantial reason to believe' Collins broke federal law

Elias Hubbard
October 13, 2017

A congressional probe of Rep. Chris Collins says there is "substantial reason" to believe the Clarence Republican may have been involved in insider trading on an Australian biotech stock.

He noted that the Office of Congressional Ethics dismissed other allegations against Collins, such as Rep. Louise M. Slaughter's charge that he wrote a provision in a bill called the 21st Century Cures Act to benefit Innate.

Collins issued a statement on Thursday. The panel is reviewing whether Collins has violated the chamber's rules of conduct but has yet to make any determination and declined to make any comment Thursday.

"Rep. Collins has done nothing improper, and his cooperation and candor during the OCE review process confirm he has nothing to hide", they wrote in an August 14 letter released Thursday by the Ethics Committee.

Collins, an early backer of President Trump's congressional campaign, has dismissed charges of wrongdoing as being politically motivated. Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns MORE, according to the OCE report. The investigation centers on three allegations: whether he shared nonpublic information about Innate; whether Collins purchased discounted stock that was not available to the public and that was offered to him because of his political status; and whether Collins took action to serve his own financial interests.

According to the Buffalo News, which has covered the allegations against Collins extensively, the House Ethics Committee confirmed it will be continuing its investigation into Collins' alleged actions.

The meeting came after Collins, in a July 2013 hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology mentioned Innate Immuno's drug to a top NIH official without disclosing his stake in the company. The visit to the NIH by Collins, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was scheduled and attended by his congressional staff.

Turn 27 Blue, a coalition comprised of the eight Democratic Party chairs in Collins' congressional district and other grassroots groups founded for the goal of getting a Democrat elected to the 27 Congressional district, said in a statement Thursday that the Ethics Office report "makes it absolutely clear that the voters of New York's 27th district deserve better from their member of Congress".

The OCE report noted that in all but one case, emails from Collins to US -based Innate investors were produced from third-party witnesses. By doing that, Collins may have violated the federal Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, a law barring insider trading among members of Congress, as well as House ethics guidelines.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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