Congressman may have broken law with biotech he held, watchdog says

The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.

The House Ethics Committee said it was extending a review into the matter.

The OCE's board recommended the committee further review the first two allegations because there was "substantial reason to believe" Collins shared nonpublic information in the purchase of Innate stock and that he took official actions or requested official actions that would assist a single entity in which he had a significant financial interest.

The watchdog also said that Collins requested that an employee of the National Institutes of Health discuss clinical trial designs with Innate employees.

"They're a waste of taxpayer money and they accomplish nothing", Collins told reporters in the Capitol.

But the two remaining charges against Collins and the 155 pages of evidence released with the Office of Congressional Ethics report collectively portray a congressman working hard on behalf of an Australian company in possible violation of USA law and House ethics rules.

A statement from Collins's legal team said the review was "spurred by unfounded accusations that trace their origin to political opponents", pointing specifically to Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).

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Slaughter said Thursday that the report showed Collins "put his obsession to enrich himself before the people he swore to represent". That, investigators found, could implicate federal insider-trading laws and the Stock Act - a 2012 law that makes clear members of Congress are covered by those existing laws.

Collins strongly denied any wrongdoing, saying that "throughout my tenure in Congress I have followed all rules and ethical guidelines when it comes to my personal investments". The ethics committee announced in the release of the report that it would start a review of Collins. "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.

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".

Those were the key conclusions of an Office of Congressional Ethics report released Thursday on Collins' relationship with an Australian biotech firm called Innate Immunotherapeutics. Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Senate confirms No. 2 spot at HHS, days after Price resigns MORE, according to the OCE report. "It is a disgrace to Congress and to his constituents, who deserve better".

Price's investments in Innate came up during his confirmation process to serve as the head of Health and Human Services. The visit to the NIH by Collins, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was scheduled and attended by his congressional staff.

In interviews with OCE, Collins "stated that he went to NIH as a private citizen and that his visit had no relation to any official duties" but also described it as akin to a "high school field trip", the report said. 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. In that meeting, Collins is alleged to have asked with help in designing Innate Immuno's drug trial. The official then invited Collins for a visit.

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