KHN Morning Briefing

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Ethics Office Finds ‘Substantial Reason’ To Review Rep. Collins’ Dealings With Pharma Company

A new report from the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics finds that there is enough reason to review the actions of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and how he may have used his office to benefit a private biotechnology company.

The New York Times: House Ethics Office Says New York Congressman May Have Violated Rules
Representative Chris Collins of New York may have violated federal law by sharing nonpublic information about a company on whose board he served, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of Congressional Ethics. The report also said Mr. Collins may have broken House ethics rules by meeting with the National Institutes of Health and asking for help with the design of a clinical trial being set up by the company, Innate Immunotherapeutics. Mr. Collins, a Republican whose district encompasses much of western New York, is also the company’s largest shareholder, reporting for the year 2016 that he held between $25 million and $50 million in the company. (Thomas and Kaplan, 10/12)

The Wall Street Journal: Congressional Ethics Office Says New York Republican May Have Violated Law
The Office of Congressional Ethics also said Rep. Chris Collins may have shared nonpublic information about Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. with other investors. In a report released Thursday, the ethics office said it found “substantial reason” to believe both allegations and voted unanimously to send the case to the House Ethics Committee for further investigation. The office said the conduct may have violated federal law. (Tau, 10/12)

The Washington Post: Rep. Chris Collins’s Advocacy For Biotech Company Broke Rules, House Ethics Watchdog Finds
Collins’s attorneys have denied the allegations of wrongdoing in the report. “Rep. Collins has done nothing improper, and his cooperation and candor during the OCE review process confirm he has nothing to hide,” they wrote in an Aug. 14 letter released Thursday by the Ethics Committee. “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.” (DeBonis, 10/12)

Politico: Ethics Panel Continues Probe Into Rep. Collins’ Stock Trades
Collins — who has repeatedly denied any improper or unethical behavior — is on the board of Innate and is its biggest stockholder, having invested at least $6 million in the firm. His children own a block of Innate shares too. Collins has pushed the company's stock to former HHS Secretary and one-time House colleague Tom Price, other lawmakers and officials in Buffalo, N.Y. Collins was once overheard bragging on the phone in the House Speaker's Lobby about “how many millionaires I’ve made in Buffalo the past few months." Price made more than $225,000 in his Innate stock trades, according to public records. (Bresnahan and Cheney, 10/12)

The Hill: Watchdog Recommends Price Subpoena In Stock Sales Probe
A congressional watchdog is recommending the subpoena of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price after he refused to cooperate in its probe of Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) related to stock sales of an Australian biotechnology firm. The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) on Thursday said Price was one of 10 individuals or entities that refused to cooperate with the investigation into whether Collins improperly shared nonpublic information in the purchase of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited stocks. (Weixel, 10/12)

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