Ethics committee investigates Rep. Chris Collins for insider trading

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.

Congressional investigators say there is a "substantial reason to believe" Republican Rep. Chris Collins of NY shared material, non-public information about a drug company he had a major financial stake in and took official actions to assist the company.

His Congressional staff later set up a meeting with N.I.H staff. Mr. Collins told them that he was associated with Innate and asked one employee - an expert on multiple sclerosis - for assistance with the company's clinical trial, the report said. 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.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics conducted the initial review and submitted a 29-page report along with its recommendations to the ethics panel.

Mr. Collins enthusiastically pitched Innate to almost everyone he met, the report said, discussing the company with members of Congress and his own staff, "most" of whom were also investors.

Collins released the following statement in response to the report: "Throughout my tenure in Congress I have followed all rules and ethical guidelines when it comes to my personal investments".

The OCE report noted that in all but one case, emails from Collins to US -based Innate investors were produced from third-party witnesses.

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 conclusions were included in an announcement Thursday from the House Ethics Committee that it was extending its review of the three-term congressman, an early and strong supporter of President Donald Trump.

Slaughter said Thursday that the report showed Collins "put his obsession to enrich himself before the people he swore to represent". "Rep. Collins has done nothing improper, and his cooperation and candor during the OCE review process confirm he has nothing to hide", they wrote in an August 14 letter released Thursday by the Ethics Committee.

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.

Collins' attorneys have denied the allegations of wrongdoing in the report. The ethics watchdog concluded that details in the emails from Collins "were likely important facts for investors making a decision on whether to purchase or sell Innate stock".

Price did not cooperate with the OCE probe, according to the report. When asked by OCE about his communications with members of Congress and staff about Innate, Collins responded: "The bigger question would be, who haven't I talked to?" The visit to the NIH by Collins, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was scheduled and attended by his congressional staff.

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 dropped after its multiple sclerosis drug failed to demonstrate a meaningful benefit for patients. The official then invited Collins for a visit.

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