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

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has "substantial reason to believe" that Congressman Chris Collins broke federal law.

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. That could have violated House rules that bar lawmakers from taking official actions that would benefit an entity in which they have a significant financial interest.

"They're a waste of taxpayer money and they accomplish nothing", Collins told reporters in the Capitol. "I thank the House Ethics Committee for their meticulous review of this case and for the tough work they do to hold all Members of Congress accountable to the highest standards of conduct".

The House Ethics Committee has been investigating Collins' involvement with a company called Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, which he holds stock in and sits on the board for.

Only the House Ethics Committee has power to rebuke lawmakers for violating rules.

Collins did win one victory, with the independent Office of Congressional Ethics recommending dismissal of a charge he purchased discounted stock not available to the public.

Collins serves in an uncompensated role as a board member of Innate and is the company's largest stockholder. "How do Western New Yorkers feel about Rep. Collins possibly breaking federal law by engaging in insider trading?"

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"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.

But the two remaining charges against Collins and the 155 pages of evidence released with the Office of Congressional Ethics report collectively portray a congressman working hard on behalf of an Australian company in possible violation of US law and House ethics rules.

"He put his obsession to enrich himself before the people he swore to represent", said Slaughter, a Fairport Democrat who authored the STOCK Act, the law that Collins may have violated.

The report recommends the House ethics committee subpoena the 10 individuals and entities that refused to cooperate with the board's investigation, including Tom Price, former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Innate and its CEO, Simon Wilkinson, and Collins' former legislative assistant, Jeff Freeland.

OCE identified multiple instances in which Collins provided updates to US investors regarding clinical trials and a private placement offering. 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. "It is a disgrace to Congress and to his constituents, who deserve better".

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.

Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the liberal watchdog group, said the OCE report is very telling of lax ethical behavior by Collins in his stock-trading activity.

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