The House Ethics Committee confirmed Monday that it was extending a probe into possible ethics violations by Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) surrounding an Australian biotech company on whose board he serves.
Collins bought discounted stock from the company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, while legislation that would affect its clinical testing made its way through Congress. Collins wrote an amendment for the legislation that, Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) told the Buffalo News, “benefited him personally.”
Slaughter was one in a group of parties, including the advocacy organization Public Citizen, that complained about Collins’ relationship with the company to the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body that makes recommendations to the committee.
Collins brought others into the deal: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. for example, admitted during his confirmation hearing that Collins told him about the company before Price purchased stock in it, ultimately profiting from the purchase.
The Ethics Committee, which is required to announce within 45 days if it intends to extend a probe, said it was doing just that on Monday:
Pursuant to House Rule XI, clause 3(b)(8)(A), and Committee Rules 17A(b)(1)(A) and 17A(c)(1), the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics (Committee) have jointly decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Chris Collins, which was transmitted to the Committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics on July 14, 2017.
The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.
The Committee will announce its course of action in this matter on or before Thursday, October 12, 2017.
A spokesperson for Collins, Sarah Minkel, told multiple outlets in a statement that the probe came after “false accusations brought about by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and her allies in a partisan witch hunt against Congressman Collins.”
“Today’s announcement was expected and is nothing more than a pro forma delay because Congress is currently in its August recess,” she added. “Congressman Collins has followed all ethical and legal guidelines when it comes to his personal investments and he looks forward to their review.”