Ethics Committee extends review of Rep. Chris Collins


Following continued scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee over alleged "insider" stock trading, Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., called the congresswoman who filed ethics charges against him "a despicable human being". "The Office of Congressional Ethics report released today is pretty clear about what Congressman Collins has done".

In comments to reporters, Mr. Collins said it was the N.I.H. that "invited me to go there and this was an afterthought at the end of a tour".

The Office of Congressional Ethics said that Collins, a Republican from NY, may have shared material, nonpublic information in Australia's Innate Immunotherapeutics IIL, +6.90% INNMF, +4.09% and that he may have purchased discounted stock, not offered to the public, because he was a member of the House of Representatives.

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FILE PHOTO: A view of the exterior of the Citibank Corporate headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, May 20, 2015. While Citi's trading desks focus heavily on bond and currency trading, it was the bank's other trading desks that stood out.

Collins strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying that "throughout my tenure in Congress I have followed all rules and ethical guidelines when it comes to my personal investments".

The outside, non-partisan Office of Congressional Ethics began a review of Collins' activity in March and voted to send its findings to the House ethics panel in July, which can formally launch investigations and recommend any sanctions against any lawmaker it determines has broken any rules.

"I was elected to Congress based upon my success in the private sector, and my willingness to use that experience every day to facilitate an environment that creates economic opportunity and jobs", he said.

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A 29-page report from the OCE was submitted to the House Ethics Committee, which determined there is a "substantial reason to believe" Collins shared non-public information about Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited. Two of Mr. Collins's children also owned stock. Either of these actions may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law.

In order to comply with Committee Rule 7 regarding confidentiality, out of fairness to all respondents, and to assure the integrity of its work, the Committee will refrain from making further public statements on this matter pending completion of its initial review. Collins allegedly requested that a government researcher meet with the company's chief scientific offer. Soon after the hearing his office reached out to the NIH and set up a visit. The company's prospects tanked after its multiple sclerosis drug failed to demonstrate a meaningful benefit for patients.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ripped Collins.

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An unnamed NIH employee told investigators that Collins represented himself as being connected with Innate Immuno and said the firm was in need of "some help with the design of the next Phase 2 trial and he asked me whether I would be willing to help them, and I said yes". The employee also said that Collins left a coin with a congressional stamp on it and asked her for her business card.