Ethics panel extends review of Rep. Collins over investments

Ethics panel extends review of Rep. Collins over investments
© Greg Nash

The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that is extending its review Rep. Chris Collins’s (R-N.Y.) role in recruiting investors to buy stock in an Australian pharmaceutical company.

Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Pelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers MORE (R-Ind.) and ranking Democrat Ted Deutch (Fla.) said in a joint statement that they would determine how to proceed in the case by Oct. 12.

Investigators began probing Collins in May after several complaints were filed alleging insider trading. Members of Congress are prohibited, under a law enacted in 2012, from trading stocks using insider information.

The Hill reported in June that Collins has boasted to other lawmakers about how much money he’s made by tipping them off to the company in which he is the largest stockholder.

The Ethics Committee is reviewing a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent House watchdog. Monday’s statement indicates that the OCE concluded there is substantial reason to believe Collins committed ethics violations.


Brooks and Deutch can choose to dismiss the case, impanel an investigative subcommittee or continue the review. Unless an investigative subcommittee is created or the Justice Department opens its own probe, the Ethics Committee will have to release the OCE report by the mid-October deadline.

Collins told a group of fellow House GOP lawmakers over dinner at one point this year that he’s helped colleagues make money by investing in Innate Immunotherapeutics, according to one lawmaker present.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the author of the 2012 law banning lawmakers from insider trading, asked the Securities and Exchange Commission, the acting U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, the House Ethics Committee and the OCE to investigate Collins’s conduct in the wake of The Hill’s report.

"As the Ethics Committee conducts its review, I'm interested to know what Congressman Collins knew and when. He presented Innate as a great investment opportunity to his friends and members of Congress that shortly thereafter went bust after its drug was found to be no better than a placebo that caused harm to patients," Slaughter said in a statement on Monday after the Ethics Committee announced its extended review of Collins.

Sarah Minkel, a spokeswoman for Collins, described the ethics complaint brought by Slaughter as a “partisan witch hunt.”

“Congressman Collins has followed all ethical and legal guidelines when it comes to his personal investments and he looks forward to their review,” Minkel said.

Reporters also overheard Collins in the Speaker’s Lobby just off the House floor bragging about “how many millionaires I’ve made in Buffalo the last few months.”

Collins, who’s served in the House since 2013, was the first member of Congress to endorse President Trump during the 2016 campaign. He then became a top campaign surrogate for Trump and served as a Capitol Hill liaison for the campaign.

This story was updated at 6:20 p.m.