Congressman may have broken law with biotech he held, watchdog says

Congressman may have broken law with biotech he held, watchdog says

The congressional ethics office said Mr. Price refused to cooperate with their investigation, as did Simon Wilkinson, Innate's chief executive, and other company officials and investors.

The report's findings could leave Collins, an early supporter of President Donald Trump's presidential campaign, vulnerable to ethics sanctions or even potential criminal prosecution based on allegations of insider trading.

"She's on a witch-hunt, she's a despicable human being", Collins said of Slaughter. In 2013, during a public hearing, Mr. Collins mentioned the drug Innate was developing - called MIS416 - without disclosing his financial interest. Such reports must be approved by the House or by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Committee. At the time Collins was accused of getting a discount on the stock because he was a member of Congress, and urging others, including Price, to do the same. "You don't go after another member with fabricated allegations like she did".

Price sold his shares of Innate in February, earning at least $225,000 on a $94,000 investment, according to congressional disclosure forms.

But it did find other new instances of potential wrongdoing - notably, a November 18, 2013, visit to the National Institutes of Health, where Collins and a House staffer visited with a key researcher into multiple sclerosis. He brought one of his staffers to the meeting, where he asked an NIH expert on multiple sclerosis to help the company with its clinical trial. Collins told OCE that the visit was a "high school field trip" and compared it to going to "the Smithsonian" and that he was there as a private citizen, not as a member of Congress. The official then invited Collins for a visit.


OCE said Collins updated shareholders with nonpublic information on the company, such as how many people were participating in the company's clinical trial, and discussions with larger pharmaceutical companies about potentially purchasing Innate. He did not, the employee said, discuss any constituents affected or any legislation involving multiple sclerosis.

Additionally, there may have been information Collins revealed with Innate investors that was not available to the public and could have been critical to investors looking to buy stock in the company, the report said.

One NIH employee interviewed by OCE about that visit in 2013 said that Collins told them that Innate needed help with a Phase 2 drug trial and asked them to help, and she agreed.

A 29-page report from the OCE was submitted to the House Ethics Committee, which determined there is a "substantial reason to believe" Collins shared non-public information about Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited.

Democrats said he could have broken insider trading laws or a law against trading on congressional knowledge. "I clearly understand the optics, but there was nothing done that was wrong".

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