House Ethics Watchdog: 'Substantial Reason To Believe' Collins Broke Law

Ethics watchdog Rep. Collins may have violated federal law over stocks

Greg Nash

"I called for the Ethics Committee to investigate Congressman Collins given all the evidence that suggests he used his position in the public trust for his own personal gain".

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

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".

But the Office of Congressional Ethics - which does preliminary investigations and makes its recommendations to the Ethics Committee, which has the power to punish lawmakers - urged the committee to keep investigating.

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Collins, who has denied any wrongdoing, was the largest shareholder of Australia's Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited and sat on the company's board of directors.

"It has never been more obvious that the term "Representative" is misapplied when it comes to Chris Collins, and the decision released today by the House Ethics Committee to continue its investigation of him reinforces that", said Judith Hunter, the Livingston County Democratic Chair.

Slaughter, the author of the 2012 law banning lawmakers from insider trading, had asked the Securities and Exchange Commission, the acting US attorney for the southern district of NY, the House Ethics Committee and the OCE to investigate Collins following a report by The Hill about his boasts to other lawmakers about how much money he's made by tipping them off to Innate.

- That he shared non-public information that may have been important to investors deciding whether to purchase Innate stock.

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

The Ethics Office report said there was "not substantial reason to believe" Collins had purchased Innate stock at a discounted rate not available to the general public and recommended that allegation against the Republican Congressman be dismissed.

Price did not cooperate with the OCE probe, according to the report. "It is a disgrace to Congress and to his constituents, who deserve better".

Price resigned in late September following a series of Politico reports about his use of private jets that cost taxpayers more than $400,000 instead of cheaper commercial alternatives. Price was also an investor in Innate and served in the Trump administration as secretary of Health and Human Services until his resignation last month after reports of his extensive private charter travel at taxpayer expense.

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The second allegation against Collins concerns discussions with NIH employees in 2013. Congress has an insider trading problem, and Rep. Collins must have been incredibly brazen about his activities to get caught. The official then invited Collins for a visit. Asked why he brought a legislative staffer along to the meeting, he responded, "I don't go anywhere alone".

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