BUFFALO, NY - It sounds bureaucratic.
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has referred its examination of Representative Chris Collins' stock deals to the House Ethics Committee.
But it's more than fact-finding hand-off.
“It indicates that there is some evidence that there could have been a violation of House ethics rules," said Meredith McGehee, director of policy at Issue One, an organization that closely monitors ethics issues in Congress.
McGehee notes that the bi-partisan OCE "only (refers) a small number of complaints on to the House Ethics committee in a given year. Most of the allegations that come in are dismissed."
Passing along the Collins' findings to the House Ethics panel pumps new life into the controversy surrounding the House Republican and his association with an Australian drug manufacturer.
Collins is an unpaid member of Innate Immunotheraputics' board of directors. Earlier this year, The Hill reported Collins told a number of fellow Congressional Republicans how much money he had made on Innate's stock, urging them to also invest.
In June, Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter wrote a letter to the OCE noting Collins was Innate's biggest stockholder and questioning the timing of stock trades.
A spokeswoman for Collins says the entire matter is a result of "Slaughter and her allies in a partisan witch hunt."
The House Ethics Committee has set out 45-days to review the issue, but frequently gives itself extensions which last months.
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