Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested on Tuesday that Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) may have broken the law by buying stock in a medical device company and then introducing a bill that would have benefited that company.
According to a report by CNN, Price, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, bought up to $15,000 worth of stock in the medical device company Zimmer Biomet in March 2016.
Price introduced the Healthy Inpatient Procedures (HIP) Act on March 24 to delay a measure by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CNN reported that industry analysts had warned the CMS measure would financially damage Zimmer Biomet, one of two companies that would have been hit hardest by the regulation.
After Price introduced the bill, Zimmer Biomet’s PAC donated to his re-election campaign.
An aide to Price said that the stock was purchased without the congressman’s knowledge via a broker, according to the report.
“If he knew about it, it could very well be a violation of the law,” Schumer told CNN. “Now they say there’s a broker, it’s kind of strange that this broker would pick this stock totally independently of him introducing legislation that’s so narrow and specific to this company.”
He also called for an investigation.
“This is a very narrow, specific company that dealt with implants—hip and knee—and the legislation specifically affects implants,” he told CNN. “He puts it in a week after he buys the stock? That cries out for an investigation.”
In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Price traded more than $300,000 in health care stocks while he had jurisdiction over the health care industry and sponsored and advocated for legislation regulating it.
Price also bought stock in Australian biotech firm Innate Immunotherapeutics in 2016, a company which sold nearly $1 million in discounted shares to Price and Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), according to Kaiser Health News. Price and Collins both sat on House committees with jurisdictions that could potentially advance the company’s interests.
In January, Senate Democrats, including Schumer, called for Price to be subject to an ethics investigation on his trading in health care stocks before his confirmation hearings moved forward.
On Thursday, Price told ethics officials that he would divest himself of the Innate Immunotherapeutics stock if appointed and would sell within 90 days. Price has already seen about a 400 percent paper gain in his investment, according to the report.