Ethics Committee extends review of Rep. Chris Collins


Collins is a board member of Innate Immunotherapeutics and holds stock in the Australian company. But the OCE report released Thursday details an instance when the NY congressman raised specific issue about an Innate drug at a public hearing before the House science committee where a witness from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke was testifying in 2013.

In a joint statement, House Ethics Chair Susan Brooks, an Indiana Republican, and the top Democrat, Rep. Ted Deutch, said, "The committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee".

Collins' attorneys have denied the allegations of wrongdoing in the report.

"She's on a witch-hunt, she's a despicable human being", Collins said of Slaughter.

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. Mr. Price and officials with Innate could not be reached for comment. Collins remains the largest shareholder in Innate Immuno, according to a listing on the firm's website.

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. In that meeting, Collins is alleged to have asked with help in designing Innate Immuno's drug trial. In 2013, during a public hearing, Mr. Collins mentioned the drug Innate was developing - called MIS416 - without disclosing his financial interest.

Additionally, there may have been information Collins revealed with Innate investors that was not available to the public and could have been critical to investors looking to buy stock in the company, the report said.

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. "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".

"She wrote the STOCK Act and led the six year fight to get it signed into law to ban insider trading by federal officials, including members of Congress", Slaughter's office said. "I clearly understand the optics, but there was nothing done that was wrong".