Politics

Collins Defends Himself Against Ethics Claims

Calls investigation ‘absolutely a partisan witch hunt’

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., attends a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup in Rayburn Building in June. Collins is a shareholder in a biotech that's stock price recently plummeted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Chris Collins defended himself regarding an ethics investigation on Thursday, calling the affair a “partisan witch hunt.”

The Republican congressman’s statement came after the House Ethics Committee announced it would extend its investigation into Collins until Oct. 12, WGRZ TV in Buffalo reported.

Collins called the committee’s involvement “fairly standard,” and defended himself against accusations of insider trading with an Australian biotech firm.

Two of the complaints were launched by advocacy group Public Citizen, and New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter.

Public Citizen claimed that Collins violated the STOCK Act by buying discounted stocks from Innate Immunotherapeutics. Slaughter claimed that Collins wrote an amendment to the 21st Century Cures Act that would have benefited him financially.

Collins called the accusations “absurd.”

“They can’t beat me at the ballot box, so they’re trying to beat me with political accusations that are absurd on their face,” he said.

Collins said he has read the Office of Congressional Ethics’ report on him, which has not been released publicly.

“If you read the report, it’s absolutely a partisan witch hunt," he said.

But Craig Hollman, who is the government affairs lobbyist Public Citizen, fired back at Collins.

“First of all, Public Citizen isn’t partisan. We’re non-partisan,” he said.

“I was a major proponent of the STOCK Act to apply laws of insider trading to members of Congress, and I was personally alarmed when I took a look at what Chris Collins was doing with his stock trading activity.”

Collins said he lost millions of dollars when the company went under.

“I certainly never sold a share, so the allegations of insider trading are pretty absurd. Where I never sold a share and I lost five million bucks,” Collins told WGRZ. “Insider trading, you have to make a profit, don’t you?  By definition. I never sold a share.”

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