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

The Office of Congressional Ethics recommended on Thursday that one of Trump's biggest supporters in Congress, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) be investigated for insider trading. Pursuant to House Rule XI, clause 3 (b)(8)(A) and Committee Rules 17A (b)(1)(A) and 17A (c)(1), the Chairwoman and Ranking Member jointly decided on August 28, 2017, to extend the Committee's review of the matter.

A House ethics watchdog has found "substantial reason to believe" that Rep. Chris Collins violated federal law and congressional rules by meeting with government researchers in his official capacity to benefit a biotech company he is invested in, and sharing private information to drum up investments in that company.

There's also substantial reason to believe he may have used his position to set up a meeting with the National Institutes of Health in November 2013 to ask that an NIH employee meet with Innate employees to discuss clinical trial designs, the panel found.

"They're a waste of taxpayer money and they accomplish nothing", Collins told reporters in the Capitol.

The report conducted by OCE includes emails from Collins that he sent to shareholders with information that the ethics watchdog says could have been important to investors about whether or not they should buy Innate stock.

In a joint statement, House Ethics Chair Susan Brooks, an Indiana Republican, and the top Democrat, Rep. Ted Deutch, said, "The committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee".

Slaughter said Thursday that the report showed Collins "put his obsession to enrich himself before the people he swore to represent". 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.

Collins serves in an uncompensated role as a board member of Innate and is the company's largest stockholder. The ethics committee announced in the release of the report that it would start a review of Collins.

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The OCE did not corroborate an allegation that drove much of the media coverage of Collins's ties to Innate Immuno - that he acted improperly in recruiting friends and colleagues, including Price, to participate in a special discounted "private placement" stock sale.

OCE identified multiple instances in which Collins provided updates to US investors regarding clinical trials and a private placement offering.

Collins disputed the findings, and said he has "always followed ethics". "It is a disgrace to Congress and to his constituents, who deserve better". 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.

Recommendations have been made to issue subpoenas to ten individuals regarding this case, including former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.

In interviews with OCE, Collins "stated that he went to NIH as a private citizen and that his visit had no relation to any official duties" but also described it as akin to a "high school field trip", the report said. The company's prospects tanked after its multiple sclerosis drug failed to demonstrate a meaningful benefit for patients.

When asked by OCE why he was accompanied by his then-legislative assistant, Collins replied: "I don't go anywhere alone".

Collins told OCE he was "sure" he would have discussed Innate at the NIH meeting, but could not recall specific conversations.

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