Ethics board: Investigation into Collins will continue

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The Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended further review into actions allegedly taken by Congressman Chris Collins to push the stock of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, an Australian biotech company, in potential violation of House ethics rules and federal law.

There's also substantial reason to believe he may have used his position to set up a meeting with the National Institutes of Health in November 2013 to ask that an NIH employee meet with Innate employees to discuss clinical trial designs, the panel found. "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".

A third allegation that Collins may have purchased discounted Innate stock that was only made available to him because he is a congressman should be dismissed, the board recommended. For now, the House Ethics Committee is extending its review and is not opening a formal investigative subcommittee at this point.

The investigation was based on Collins' investment in Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech firm.

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 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". Now, the Office of Congressional Ethics has found clear and convincing evidence that Congressman Collins likely broke federal law.

In response to the Ethics Office's findings, Collins released the following statement.

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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. By doing that, Collins may have violated the federal Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, a law barring insider trading among members of Congress, as well as House ethics guidelines.

"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.

"Rep. Collins has done nothing improper, and his cooperation and candor during the OCE review process confirm he has nothing to hide", his legal team stated. 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.

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

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

A source close to the congressman, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private actions, said Collins invested about $5 million in the company over the years and did not sell any of his shares. 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. In that meeting, Collins is alleged to have asked with help in designing Innate Immuno's drug trial. Asked why he brought a legislative staffer along to the meeting, he responded, "I don't go anywhere alone".

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