6 Top Republicans Linked to ‘Completely Idiotic’ Insider Trading Scandal
As the midterms approach, Several Republican Seats In Congress At Risk
On Wednesday, CNN reported on the arrest of Republican congressman Chris Collins, a representative for New York’s 27th congressional district, on the grounds of insider trading. The charges, which were brought forward by federal prosecutors in New York, include: wire fraud, 13 counts of securities fraud, and false statements tied to the Australian pharmaceutical company Innate Immunotherapeutics.
Collins has been an investor in the company since 2002, and was so prominent that he got a spot on the Board of Directors. This on its own could constitute a a violation of the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, but it was his decision to inform his son about the imminent stock drop of Innate Immunotherapeutics that got him caught.
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Collins was literally the first sitting congressman to endorse Donald Trump for President back in February 2016, saying that the country needed “a chief executive, not a chief politician”. A nonsensical statement that may have been an attempt at presenting Trump’s terrible business record as a positive thing. And, his indictment has revealed the dirty hands of six other Republican politicians. Both of which, undoubtedly, make his arrest particularly satisfying for Democrats.
As it turns out, Collins allegedly committed more insider trading prior to Innate going under, by praising the company in Congress and offering some of his buddies special deals to encourage them to invest. The first was Tom Price. Readers may remember him best as Trump’s former Secretary of Health and Human Services who resigned after an outcry over his luxurious, taxpayer funded travel. But prior to being in the President’s Cabinet he was a representative from Georgia’s 6th congressional district from 2005-2017. Collins gave him a rare 12 percent discount on the corporation’s stock, a sweetheart discount that was reportedly offered to a very limited number of U.S. investors.
The second and third were Mike Conaway and John Culberson from Texas. Neither received a discount and therefore may escape being targeted by prosecutors. But Culberson’s decision to buy-in based on alleged advice from Collins, as well his own allegations of encouraging other congressmen to chip in, could put him at risk of violating the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012.
Fourth was Doug Lamborn from Colorado’s 5th congressional district. A spokesman for Lamborn claimed that he purchased the stock “at fair market value,” but that it was all done coincidentally during Innate Immunotherapeutics promotion by Collins raises ethical concerns.
Fifth was Markwayne Mullin from Ohio’s second congressional district. Not only did he put in at least $100,000 into the company, but he also did so while serving on the United States House Energy Subcommittee on Health: a fact that could be a breach of congressional ethics.
And last, but not least, is Billy Long from Missouri’s 7th congressional district. Like Mullin, Long serves on a committee, this one being the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. But his potential conflict of interest could be the basis for an ethics violation given that the Energy and Commerce Committee deals with the industry Innate Immunotherapeutics occupies.
Whether or not the federal prosecutors will go after these six individuals remains to be seen. However it would certainly set off alarms if it were not. As CNN legal analyst Paul Callan put it, this was “completely idiotic”, and “the dumbest insider trading crime” he’d ever seen. It would certainly raise eyebrows were the Department of justice not to investigate thoroughly. Particularly for the appearance of turning a blind eye to corruption in Congress, particularly Republican corruption during the Trump administration, which that would result in.
Time will tell.
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