Republican U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump, was indicted today for insider trading. He may not be the only member of Congress to face scrutiny. And he joins an early Trump supporter in Arkansas as an accused felon.
Four more members of Congress purchased stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics, the small Australian biomedical firm connected to a fellow congressman, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), according to periodic transaction reports reviewed by CREW. The purchases were made at a time of intense scrutiny of Innate’s stock following revelations that then-Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), now the Secretary of Health and Human Services, had purchased between $50,001 and $100,000 in Innate stock last August in what has been called a “sweetheart deal.”
Each of the congressmen — Reps. Mike Conaway (R-TX), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Billy Long (R-MO), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) – purchased the stock in January 2017. Two of the new stockholders, Reps. Mullin and Long, are members of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Energy and Commerce Committee along with Rep. Collins. The trades in Innate stock by Reps. Conaway, Lamborn and Long have not been previously reported while Political MoneyLine first identified Rep. Mullin’s Innate purchase.
It is unknown whether the congressmen purchased Innate stock with Rep. Collins’ encouragement. Rep. Collins, who is Innate’s largest shareholder and sits on the company’s board of directors, has been overheard by reporters speaking loudly into his cellphone in the House lobby, bragging about how many “millionaires” he had made in his hometown of Buffalo in recent months.
Collins indictment lists his communications, including while attending a congressional picnic at the White House. The New York Times recounts:
Mr. Collins, 68, was attending the Congressional Picnic at the White House in June 2017 when he received a private email from the company’s chief executive that a test for a potentially lucrative experimental drug had failed, the indictment said. Fifteen minutes later, the congressman, who sat on the firm’s board of directors and was one of its largest shareholders, called his son, Cameron Collins, who sold his shares in the company, avoiding losses of more than $570,000, the indictment said. Mr. Collins did not sell his own shares, the indictment said.
Former state Rep. Nate Bell, once a Republican but also a foe of Trump, noted on Twitter that Collins matches up with Trump’s first legislative supporter in Arkansas, former Sen. Jon Woods. Woods has been convicted of federal felonies in a kickback scheme. “Birds of a feather,” Bell commented.