Aug. 8, 2018

Public Citizen Led Calls for Collins Investigation for Possible Insider Trading

Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: On Jan. 5, 2017, Public Citizen asked the U.S. Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to look more closely at the stock trading activity of U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and then-U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and determine if they used their public office for personal financial benefit. OCE referred the matter to the U.S. House Ethics Committee recommending further action. The House Ethics Committee has yet to address the charges, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) has now indicted and arrested Collins for insider trading. This is the first prosecution under the STOCK Act, which extended the law against insider trading to members of Congress in 2012.

The Collins indictment drives home the point that members of Congress and their staffs sit in unique positions of power that offer the opportunity to manipulate the market for personal gain – be it insider trading or promoting public policies that affect their own fortunes. The additional disclosure requirements imposed by the STOCK Act revealed what appeared to be such insider trading by Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and then-Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), prompting Public Citizen’s complaint to ethics officers more than a year ago.

While the House Ethics Committee sits idle, it is refreshing to see that the Department of Justice is stepping up to the plate and taking violations of insider trading laws by members of Congress seriously.

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