The Office of Congressional Ethics Board has determined that there is “substantial reason to believe” that Rep. Chris Collins violated federal law by promoting the stock of an Australian biotech firm based on insider information and persuading National Institutes of Health officials to meet with a staffer from that company.
According to the Office of Congressional Ethics report:
- There is a substantial reason to believe that Representative Collins shared material nonpublic information in the purchase of Innate stock, in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law
• Three times in 2015 and 2016, Collins sent emails to potential Innate investors that included what appears to be private information about the company as well as publicly available information. 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.
• In November 2013, Collins met with officials at the National Institutes of Health and asked that an NIH researcher meet with Innate’s chief science officer to discuss possible clinical trials for the company’s experimental multiple sclerosis drug. 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 Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the committee dismiss a third charge against Collins: that he got a discount on Innate’s stock based on the fact that he was a member of Congress.