Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

GOP Rep. Collins calls Democrat Slaughter 'despicable human being' over ethics charges

GOP Rep. Collins calls Democrat Slaughter 'despicable human being' over ethics charges

The Office of Congressional Ethics said that Collins, a Republican from NY, may have shared material, nonpublic information in Australia's Innate Immunotherapeutics IIL, +6.90% INNMF, +4.09% and that he may have purchased discounted stock, not offered to the public, because he was a member of the House of Representatives.

The Office of Congressional Ethics has been looking into Rep. Chris Collins (R-Erie County) and his relationship with an Australian biotech firm.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., filed ethics charges against Collins with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent watchdog group - a move that Collins labeled a "witch-hunt". "There is nothing in the record to suggest, let alone support, the conclusion that Rep. Collins violated House rules, standards of conduct, or federal law". "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".

In a letter, Collins' lawyer said that the information the congressman shared was public, and further, that the information wasn't material anyway.

The report also found that Mr. Collins may have violated ethics rules in mingling his official and personal roles when interacting with employees at the N.I.H.


Slaughter, who authored the 2012 STOCK Act which deals with lawmakers using special information for financial gain on the markets, filed charges against Collins to the OCE in response to a June story from The Hill. Pursuant to House Rule XI, clause 3 (b)(8)(A) and Committee Rules 17A (b)(1)(A) and 17A (c)(1), the Chairwoman and Ranking Member jointly decided on August 28, 2017, to extend the Committee's review of the matter.

Collins, who cooperated with the probe, maintained that the information was available through public information, but OCE retained an expert to determine what information was available and what it deemed "nonpublic".

Collins, who has denied any wrongdoing, was the largest shareholder of Australia's Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited and sat on the company's board of directors. 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. Collins allegedly requested that a government researcher meet with the company's chief scientific offer. Prior to his visit, an aide to Collins notified the organizer of the meeting that he was involved with Innate, a company that was working on a drug to treat multiple sclerosis.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ripped Collins. "So in her report if they say did you invest in an IPO, a public IPO, the answer is no", Collins told reporters Thursday.

In comments to reporters, Mr. Collins said it was the N.I.H. that "invited me to go there and this was an afterthought at the end of a tour".

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