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Ethics probe finds 'substantial reason' to believe Collins engaged in insider trading

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A congressional probe of Rep. Chris Collins says there is "substantial reason" to believe the Clarence Republican may have been involved in insider trading on an Australian biotech stock, a violation of federal law. Collins was the largest shareholder of Innate Immunotherapeutics. In a written statement, the congressman says he has followed proper guidelines.

"Throughout my tenure in Congress I have followed all rules and ethical guidelines when it comes to my personal investments," Collins says.

The statement goes on to say, "I thank the House Ethics Committee for their meticulous review of this case and for the tough work they do to hold all Members of Congress accountable to the highest standards of conduct.”

Public Citizen government affairs lobbyist Craig Holman says it is very unusual for the House Ethics Committee to run this long of an investigation. He says the charges are serious.

'The preliminary report from the Office of Congressional Ethics is very damning of Chris Collins' behavior," Holman told WBFO.

"That goes further than what I've ever seen in an OCE report before. They will usually say this congressman refused to participate and therefore they don't have enough information to make a determination."

The OCE is recommending subpoenas of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and former local congressman Bill Paxon. The committee is asking for more time to continue the investigation.

Collins did win one victory, with the independent Office of Congressional Ethics recommending dismissal of a charge he purchased discounted stock not available to the public. An allegation that he arranged for a company official to meet with officials of the National Institutes of Health about Innate remains under investigation.

Holman says committee members are likely to appoint a special sub-committee to continue the investigation.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.