Jan. 5, 2017
Extensive Stock Trading by Trump’s Nominee for HHS Raises Conflict of Interest Concerns
Public Citizen Asks OCE and SEC to Investigate Trading Activity by Reps. Price and Collins
Washington, D.C. – The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should look more closely at the stock trading activity of U.S. Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Chris Collins (R- N.Y.) for conflicts of interest and possible insider trading, Public Citizen said in a letter today.
Price is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for director of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Extensive stock trading activity in industries that Price and Collins oversee as congressmen, and unusually good timing and financial benefits of those stock trades, raise red flags about the potential use of insider information,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The public information available falls short of hard evidence of insider trading, but the patterns of trading activity certainly warrant further investigation to determine if it occurred.”
Since 2009, according to congressional financial disclosure reports, Price has conducted over 630 trades on the stock market, many of which involve the pharmaceutical and health care sectors that he oversees as chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee and as a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.
Price’s colleague Collins also is a prolific trader of health care investments on the stock market, according to news and disclosure reports. Collins, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, is a board member and the largest shareholder of a major biotech company, Australia’s Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited – a company in which both Price and Collins made major stock purchases within days of each other, according to financial disclosure reports.
“Collins purchased 4 million shares in August in the company whose board he sits on , and Price followed up with his own major stock purchase in the company two days later,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The stock value doubled in the three months following their investments. That’s quite good luck. This is worthy of investigation to determine whether any wrongful conduct occurred.”
Since passage of the STOCK Act in 2012, members of Congress have been subject to the same laws against insider trading that apply to everyone else. Additionally, congressional ethics rules warn members to avoid substantial conflicts of interest that may cast aspersions on the integrity of their office. Rules also mandate that members may not use their office for personal gain.
Public Citizen’s letter asks that the OCE and SEC investigate the stock trading activity of Price and Collins for potential violations of insider trading laws and conflict of interest rules and regulations. Read the letter.