GOP rep accused of using his office to boost his investments

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)
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club on Nov. 3, 2015.

You might remember Tom Price as the former HHS secretary who was forced to resign after using public funds for private chartered flights. But before that controversy ended his political career, Price was a Georgia Republican who was also controversial for his investments.

Price, regular readers may recall, invested in an Australian biomedical firm, Innate Immunotherapeutics, and then sponsored legislation that sent the company's stock higher, making his investment far more valuable.

But Price wasn't alone. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), one of Donald Trump's key congressional allies, was an even bigger investor in Innate Immunotherapeutics -- indeed, the New York Republican sits on the company's board -- and Collins also took the lead on pushing legislation that benefited the company.

The Daily Beast moved the ball forward yesterday, reporting that Collins has sponsored "several bills" 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."

Collins's office says he doesn't believe his bills represent a conflict of interest, but he is already accused by independent Office of Congressional Ethics of violating House ethics rules and U.S. securities law for his dealings with the drug company.The Daily Beast found at least four bills that Collins drafted or sponsored that would have directly affected the drug company, Innate Immunotherapeutics.

This comes 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," and "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."

Four days later, Vice President Mike Pence announced he'd hold a fundraiser to help with Collins' re-election.

What's more, despite the concerns raised by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the House Ethics Committee has apparently taken no action with regards to the questions surrounding Collins.