Rep. Collins may have broken federal law for sharing private information

Posted at 2:16 PM, Oct 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-12 15:28:09-04

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

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.  The investigation centers on three allegations: whether he shared nonpublic information about Innate; whether Collins purchased discounted stock that was not available to the public and that was offered to him because of his political status; and whether Collins took action to serve his own financial interests. 

The Office of Congressional Ethics, a nonpartisan entity, reviews allegations of misconduct, referring matters to the House Committee on Ethics.

The OCE concluded that there is enough evidence to believe that Collins shared private information in the purchase of Innate stock, "in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law." It also says there is substantial reason to believe that Collins took action for his personal financial gain. The report says further review is needed for both allegations.

The OCE recommends that the allegation that Collins purchased discounted stock that was not available to the public be dismissed.  

Within less than an hour of the Office of Congressional Ethics report being published, Collins issued a statement:

"Throughout my tenure in Congress I have followed all rules and ethical guidelines when it comes to my personal investments. 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. 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."

Collins' attorneys argue this House Committee investigation is spurred by a personal vendetta by Rep. Louise Slaughter.

"Rep. Collins has done nothing improper, and his cooperation and candor during the OCE review process confirm he has nothing to hide," Mark Braden wrote in August to the Ethics Committee on the Congressman's behalf. 

Recommendations have been made to issue subpoenas to ten individuals regarding this case, including former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.