Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Nov. 3, 2015.
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/AP

GOP Rep. Chris Collins, prominent Trump backer, indicted

It’s not at all common for sitting members of Congress to get arrested. As we discussed a few years ago, members will occasionally engage in civil disobedience at a protest – Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) has been arrested dozens of times in pursuit of civil rights – but in general, lawmakers write laws; they don’t run afoul of them.

That makes it all the more remarkable that Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) surrendered to the FBI this morning on securities fraud-related charges. NBC News reported:

Collins, 68, faces insider trading charges along with his son, Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins’ fiancée, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

The case is related to Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company, on which the elder Collins served on the board.

Collins, one of Donald Trump’s early supporters in his bid for president, is expected to appear in federal court later Wednesday in Manhattan.

This controversy has been simmering for a while. Indeed, circling back to our previous coverage, Collins was a major investor in Innate Immunotherapeutics – the New York Republican was given a seat on the company’s board – and Collins allegedly took the lead on pushing legislation that benefited the company.

The Daily Beast had an excellent piece on this in April, reporting that Collins either drafted or sponsored at least four pieces of legislation that would have benefited the company he’s invested in, while also “trying to make changes to a government program that would save the company millions of dollars if its drug is approved by the FDA.”

The article came six months after the New York Times, citing findings from the Office of Congressional Ethics, reported that Collins “may have violated federal law by sharing nonpublic information about a company on whose board he served” – an action specifically cited in today’s indictment.

To the extent that electoral considerations matter, Collins is supposed to run for re-election this year in New York’s 27th congressional district, and the conventional wisdom has been that he was a very safe bet for re-election.

That, of course, was before he was taken into FBI custody.

Culture of Corruption

GOP Rep. Chris Collins, prominent Trump backer, indicted