Ethics Committee extends review of Rep. Chris Collins

Ethics Committee extends review of Rep. Chris Collins

Ethics Committee extends review of Rep. Chris Collins

The Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the Committee on Ethics further review allegations that Collins shared material non-public information in the purchase of Innate stock, in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law.

"If Representative Collins took official actions or requested officials actions that would assist a single entity in which he had a significant financial interest, then he may have violated House rules and standards of conduct", the report says.

And while the Office of Congressional Ethics' findings about Collins were different than what Slaughter had suggested the committee might find, she said the office's report made it clear that Collins likely violated federal law in touting Innate's prospects with inside information. 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.

OCE recommended that the House Ethics Committee further review the allegations. "It is a disgrace to Congress and to his constituents, who deserve better", Slaughter said in a statement following the publication of the OCE's report on Thursday.

A statement from Collins's legal team said the review was "spurred by unfounded accusations that trace their origin to political opponents", pointing specifically to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

The Office of Congressional Ethics has been looking into Rep. Chris Collins (R-Erie County) and his relationship with an Australian biotech firm.

Collins was the first member of Congress to back Trump's presidential run in 2016, and was a key ally in his fight to pass a bill repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Collins is a board member of Innate Immunotherapeutics and holds stock in the Australian company.

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The news was welcomed by industry groups, especially those representing the "less established" technologies likely to compete for the next auction.

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".

However, OCE dismissed an allegation that Collins bought discounted stock that was not available to the public and offered to him based on his status as a member of Congress.

Price did not cooperate with the OCE probe, according to the report.

But it did find other new instances of potential wrongdoing - notably, a November 18, 2013, visit to the National Institutes of Health, where Collins and a House staffer visited with a key researcher into multiple sclerosis.

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.

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.

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". "How do Western New Yorkers feel about Rep. Collins possibly breaking federal law by engaging in insider trading?"

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