Ethics working group to hash out what kind of company service is off limits

Chris Collins insider trading case prompted need to clarify regulations

Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas, is a member of the working group. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo).
Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas, is a member of the working group. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo).
Posted July 22, 2019 at 4:24pm

A House Ethics Committee working group on Thursday will discuss proposed regulations to govern what kind of roles lawmakers may perform in companies, part of a push to head off the kind of ethical issues that led to the federal indictment of Rep. Chris Collins, who is accused of trading insider information while simultaneously serving as a company board member and public official.

That working group — comprised of Rep. Van Taylor, R-Texas and Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa.— will consider what types of service or positions with outside entities could lead to actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The Outside Positions Working Group will meet publicly July 25 in 1310 Longworth House Office Building at 3:30 p.m.

[Ethics Committee announces working group]

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 14: Rep.-elect Susan Wild, D-Pa., is seen after the freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol on November 14, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., is a member of the working group. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“As part of my role as a member of the House Ethics Committee, I’m proud to lead this bipartisan working group with my colleague Rep. Van Taylor on this important work and look forward to hearing further from the entities that submitted comments to the Committee,” Wild said in an emailed statement.

House Resolution 6 created a new clause in the Code of Official Conduct — set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020 — that prohibits members, delegates, resident commissioners, officers or employees in the House from serving as an officer or director of any public company.

The clause required the Ethics Committee to develop by Dec. 31 regulations addressing other prohibited service or positions that could lead to conflicts of interest.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 9: Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The committee formed the group on June 26. Its mission harks back to the case of Collins, the New York Republican charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for alleged insider trading involving the Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics.

Collins served on the company’s board of directors while serving in Congress. Currently, there is a House Ethics investigative subcommittee inquiry into Collins that is waiting for the conclusion of his upcoming federal district court trial slated for February 2020 in New York City.