Report: Ethics Office Investigating Chris Collins Investments

Inquiry over improperly attracting investors to biotech company

A newspaper reported investigators were interviewing several people who had invested in a company in which Rep. Chris Collins is the largest shareholder. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Office of Congressional Ethics is reportedly conducting an inquiry into whether Rep. Chris Collins improperly attracted investors to an Australian biotech company and gave a stock tip to then-Rep. Tom Price.

Citing two anonymous sources, the The Buffalo News reported several investors in the Buffalo area were being interviewed this week to look at potential roles played by Collins in urging investors to buy stock in the company.

The New York Republican is the largest shareholder in the company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, according to the report.

A spokesman said in a statement to Roll Call that the congressman did nothing wrong.

“Despite the continued partisan attacks insinuating otherwise, Congressman Collins has followed all ethical guidelines related to his personal finances during his time in the House and will continue to do so,” Spokesman Michael Kracker said.

Kracker said Collins’ relationship with the company dated back 15 years and that it worked to develop a treatment for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, an illness that has affected one of Collins’ close family members.

The Office of Congressional Ethics does not acknowledge if it is conducting an inquiry of members of Congress. It may send a report to the House Ethics Committee, which would make what OCE found public after a certain amount of time.

The OCE could also determine the allegations go nowhere. It is not clear at what stage the Collins probe stands.

The ethics office has received at least four requests for inquiry involving Collins and investments in the company.

They note Collins was involved in a bill that would benefit the company, which would raise questions on if he violated a law that bars lawmakers from making money using insider information when investing.

The probe also includes looking into a stock tip Collins gave Price before the Georgia Republican left Congress to become Health and Human Services secretary. The report states Price bought $100,000 in a private discount stock sale two days after Collins bought 4 million shares.

The anonymous sources said investigators are expected to interview up to six Buffalo-area investors this week.

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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