The Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended further review into actions allegedly taken by Congressman Chris Collins to push the stock of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, an Australian biotech company, in potential violation of House ethics rules and federal law.
"Rep. Collins has done nothing improper, and his cooperation and candor during the OCE review process confirm he has nothing to hide", wrote attorney E. Mark Braden in a letter to the House Ethics Committee.
The OCE did not corroborate the allegation that drove much of the media coverage of Collins's ties to Innate Immuno - that he acted improperly in recruiting friends and colleagues, including Price, to participate in a special discounted "private placement" stock sale.
On July 14, 2017, the Committee received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) regarding Representative Chris Collins.
"If Representative Collins took official actions or requested official actions that would assist a single entity in which he had a significant financial interest, then he may have violated House rules and standards of conduct", read a portion of the Ethics Office report.
But it did find other new instances of potential wrongdoing - notably, a November 18, 2013, visit to the National Institutes of Health, where Collins and a House staffer visited with a key researcher into multiple sclerosis.
"He put his obsession to enrich himself before the people he swore to represent". The panel is reviewing whether Collins has violated the chamber's rules of conduct but has yet to make any determination and declined to make any comment Thursday.
The report details how Collins met with officials at the National Institutes of Health to discuss the development of a drug made by Innate, a company whose board he served on. "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 August 14 letter released Thursday by the Ethics Committee.
OCE identified multiple instances in which Collins provided updates to US investors regarding clinical trials and a private placement offering.
Price resigned in late September following a series of Politico reports about his use of private jets that cost taxpayers more than $400,000 instead of cheaper commercial alternatives.
The second allegation against Collins concerns discussions with NIH employees in 2013.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ripped Collins. The company's prospects dropped after its multiple sclerosis drug failed to demonstrate a meaningful benefit for patients.
Collins told OCE he was "sure" he would have discussed Innate at the NIH meeting, but could not recall specific conversations.
Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the liberal watchdog group, said the OCE report is very telling of lax ethical behavior by Collins in his stock-trading activity.
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