Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was a major investor in “Innate Immunotherapeutics,” an Australian biotech company. He encouraged others around him to follow his lead, including members of his family and his congressional colleagues. But when the company’s CEO emailed him last summer to let him know about an unsuccessful clinical trial that would inevitably push the company’s stock lower, things went haywire.
Cameron Collins unloaded his Innate shares, as did his fiancée and Zarsky, in the days that followed. Zarsky’s wife and a friend also benefited from the move, prosecutors said.
On June 26, news of the failed drug trial was made public and the stock took a nosedive. The defendants managed to avoid more than $768,000 in losses, prosecutors allege.
The Republican representative has been charged with, among other things, insider trading. But Collins insists that he is innocent and fully expects to be re-elected in three months while he is out on bail. On Wednesday morning he surrendered to the FBI and in the afternoon, Collins pleaded not guilty and issued a statement that read in part: “Because my focus is to defeat these charges in Court, after today, I will not address any issues related to Innate Immunotherapeutics outside of the courtroom.” Soon after, Collins announced he’d host a press conference, at which he said he looked forward “to being fully vindicated and exonerated.”
Collins represents New York’s 27th congressional district, which is the most Republican district in the northeast. Trump won there by nearly 25 points.
But according to “Roll Call,” Democrats are “salivating at the possibility that the congressman’s arrest Wednesday puts his Western New York seat in play.”
“With Collins’ arrest for corruption, unprecedented grassroots energy, and the strong candidacy of Nate McMurray, this seat is firmly in play for Democrats,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said in a statement Wednesday.
The McMurray campaign said it raised more money yesterday morning than it had in the entire race to date.