Watch: CNN’s Camerota blindsides GOP lawmaker with ethics questions on his millions of pharma stock shares
Appearing on CNN, ostensibly to talk about the GOP budget plan, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) seemed stunned when host Alisyn Camerota brought up the fact that he is being investigated by a House Ethics panel over possible insider trading on a pharmaceutical stock.
“Okay, while we have you, congressman, I do want to address an ethics issue that, at the moment, you are facing,” Camerota began. “It is reviewing some business dealings that you did to see if they were appropriate. Did you share some sort of nonpublic information with the NIH in attempting to get them to run some sort of clinical trial for Immunotherapeutics?”
“The trial failed,” Collins parried without directly answering the question. “I lost everything I had in it. Believe me, I didn’t have any inside information that would indicate otherwise.”
“Hold on,” Camerota cut in. “You had at one point 25 million, 50 million stakes in the company. And you don’t have those anymore?”
“No, I owned 38 million shares of that at one time, with a lot of hype around the company, it was worth $30 million,” he replied, adding, “Today it is worth zero. I never sold a share. And clearly the indication that I would have had insider information to tell me about all the good things that were going to happen clearly was not the case because good things clearly didn’t happen. Our trial failed.”
“I reviewed everything with ethics,” he continued. “Today the three initial allegations with me were all dismissed by the Office of Congressional Ethics. They are not the real deal, they turned it over to the committee that just said we’re going to review things, but that’s where it stands. I wish they had reviewed things and just ended the situation, here they didn’t. That’s unfortunate, but I certainly did nothing wrong.”
Continuing to plead his case, Collins claimed, “I had no insider information that good things were coming because what came was the company derailed, the trial failed and I lost everything — never sold a share.”
“When the findings were they had substantial reason to believe — the House Ethics committee –that you did engage in some sort of insider trading or insider information, not true?” the CNN host pressed.
“No, there’s two different things,” Collins pleaded. “There is the Congressional Ethics Committee. I call that them the real deal. They are reviewing the OCW report — the Office of Congressional Ethics — the mall cops. They’re not the real deal. They thought one of my e-mails to investors may have had not public information and that’s not true.”
Collins then continued to point out that he never made any money on the deal because the trial failed, without ever addressing the question of whether he pressed the NIH for a clinical trial as a sitting congressman.
You can watch the video below via CNN: