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Citizens Petition House Ethics Committee to Carry Through on Insider Trading Investigation of Rep. Chris Collins

Feb. 22, 2018

Citizens Petition House Ethics Committee to Carry Through on Insider Trading Investigation of Rep. Chris Collins

Public Citizen Complaint Filed More Than a Year Ago Languishes Before the Ethics Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Thousands of citizens across the country today called on the U.S. House Committee on Ethics to proceed with an investigation of possible insider trading by U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). The petition, signed by 11,709 people, was delivered today.

Public Citizen filed a complaint on Jan. 5, 2017 with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) alleging possible insider trading by both Collins and Price – then a member of Congress. OCE, the independent ethics agency created to facilitate transparency and accountability in the congressional ethics process, conducted an extensive report that found probable cause for investigation and recommended on July 14, 2017 that the House ethics committee pursue a formal investigation.

The 29-page report by the independent OCE found “a substantial reason to believe that … Collins shared material nonpublic information in the purchase of Innate stock, in violation of House rules, standards of conduct and federal law.” Collins sits on the board of directors of Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited as well as in Congress. Price also traded extensively in Innate stock while serving in Congress.

Then, on Aug. 28, the House ethics committee decided to extend the preliminary review to determine whether there was sufficient evidence for an investigation.

“The House ethics committee could have pursued one of two options: either dismiss the complaint or pursue the complaint with a formal investigation,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “Instead, the committee found a third option – declining to dismiss or investigate, pending further review. That was half a year ago.”

“The House ethics committee has a history of delaying, avoiding or choosing to forego investigations, often taking so long that cases get dropped when the member resigns or loses their reelection bid, thus escaping accountability,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “This slow and flawed process led to the creation of the independent OCE to provide transparency and accountability in the ethics process. The OCE has worked amazingly well, and the ethics committee must not undermine the process.”

The citizen’s petition says, “We, the undersigned, call on the House ethics committee to proceed with a formal investigation into Rep. Chris Collins and former Rep. Tom Price for potential insider trading. If there is good reason to believe members of Congress have broken the law to make a profit, it is critical that we hold them accountable to the fullest extent possible.”

Read the citizen’s petition and a letter from Public Citizen accompanying it.