Collins Will Stop Using Campaign Donations To Pay Legal Bills, Spox Says

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Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) used campaign donations to pay his legal bills for a congressional probes into his alleged insider trading, but he has pledged to stop doing so a day after being indicted on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI, CNBC reported Thursday.

A Collins spokesperson told the network, in its words, that “going forward, the congressman will pay for his legal bills out of his own pocket.” Collins’ son, and his son’s fiancé’s father, were also indicted Wednesday. 

Collins’ campaign finance filings show multiple payments for “legal services” to the law firm BakerHostetler. A Collins spokesperson told CNBC those were payments for similar investigations into alleged insider trading and other matters by the Office of Congressional Ethics and House Ethics Committee.

CNBC said Collins had paid the firm up to $60,000 a month for legal services since July 2017. In October 2017, The Buffalo News reported that Collins’ campaign had paid the firm $162,823.27 over July, August and September 2017 on legal fees.

The House Ethics Committee announced last year that it was probing Collins’ behavior upon receiving a recommendation to do so by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

An OCE report to the committee in July 2017 said there was “substantial reason to believe” Collins had broken the law by sharing nonpublic information about the biotech firm Innate Immunotherapeutics, where he was then a board member and the largest shareholder, in addition to contacting employees at the National Institutes of Health in an attempt to aid the company.

In June 2017, prosecutors alleged Wednesday, Collins set off a series of insider trading violations when he called his son to warn him that Innate’s primary drug had failed a clinical trial.

The OCE investigation had begun a few months earlier, well after reporters overheard Collins bragging about “how many millionaires I’ve made in Buffalo the past few months.”

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