Rep. Collins’ Opponents Pounce On Ethics Report

From the Morning Memo:

Opponents of Rep. Chris Collins saw an opening and quickly took the opportunity to condemn the Western New York Republican.

A report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, which was released as part of the House Ethics Committee investigation, suggested Collins may have violated House rules – and possibly federal law – in his dealings with the Australian-based pharmaceutical firm Innate Immunotherapeutics.

Turn NY-27 Blue, a coalition of Democratic committees and grassroots organizations within the congressional district, sent out a press release blasting Collins shortly after the report went public. The group is actively recruiting a Democratic opponent to run against Collins in next year’s mid-term elections, and they insisted the congressman’s days in office are numbered.

“It has never been more obvious that the term ‘Representative’ is misapplied when it comes to Chris Collins, and the decision released today by the House Ethics Committee to continue its investigation of him reinforces that,” said Judith Hunter, the Livingston County Democratic Chair.

“His actions prove that his priorities are his own bottom line and those of his cronies’, not the interests of the hard-working voters of New York 27.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also said it’s looking forward to finding out how voters will react to the allegations against Collins next November.

There is substantial reason to believe that multimillionaire Chris Collins has shamelessly and unapologetically abused his position to enrich himself and his Republican colleagues, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. How do Western New Yorkers feel about Rep. Collins possibly breaking federal law by engaging in insider trading?” spokesperson Evan Lukaske asked.

Finally, an organization classifying itself as an “ad hoc coalition of Western New York Resistance groups” sent an open letter to the congressman that included a list of “general moral precepts” to help guide him through his remaining time in office.

They included:

  • Thou shalt resign from all boards and divest from all businesses that create the appearance of a conflict of interest.
  • Thou shalt represent all of thine constituents, not just the ones who voted for you.
  • Thou shalt not bear false witness against thine constituents, thine press outlets, or thine political opponents.

For his part, Collins has consistently refuted claims he did anything wrong as the company’s largest investor. 

The congressman’s attorney said the recommendation by OCE for further review because there was substantial evidence Collins shared non-public information and took or requested official actions to benefit the company was a “result of a tortured interpretation of reality and also bespeaks a misunderstanding of the facts, the law, or both, and should be rejected.”

Hospitals Fret Trump Executive Order

From the Morning Memo:

The organization that represents New York hospitals in Albany criticized President Donald Trump’s move on Thursday to loosen requirements under the Affordable Care Act.

The administration and Republicans supportive of the move say the president’s executive order is designed to make it easier and cheaper to purchase insurance under the ACA, also known as Obamacare.

But opponents are worried it will leave sicker people in the regulated market, driving up costs of those plans.

In a statement, Healthcare Association of New York President Bea Grause said Trump’s order “undermined” a key part of the law. She pointed to allowing small groups to pool insurance and purchase plans across state lines, which would be exempt from ACA requirements and outside of state regulators’ jurisdictions.

At the same time, the order would expand short-term insurance that does not cover pre-existing conditions, undercutting insurance companies that are providing fuller coverage as mandated by New York law, she said.

“As a result, out-of-state companies offering products with less coverage and fewer consumer protections will undercut New York-regulated insurance companies providing comprehensive coverage by mandated by state law,” she said. “This approach will almost certainly serve to destabilize the insurance market in New York and lead to unaffordable coverage for the people who need it most.”

The Trump administration on Thursday evening, meanwhile, announced it would not longer fund a key ACA subsidy to insurance companies.

The moves come after Republicans in Congress could not reach an agreement to unwind the law, a signature domestic policy achievement under President Barack Obama.

Attorney For WNYCPC Has Strong Words For Cuomo

From the Morning Memo:

Despite getting a victory in court earlier this week when a judge denied a motion to dismiss the case, the attorney for the coalition that wants to keep the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca had some harsh words for the governor.

The coalition argues that the state’s plans to move the facility to a shared site with the adult hospital in Buffalo amounts to closing it down, which they say the governor can’t do without legislative approval.

Attorney Steve Cohen said the state hasn’t even responded to the initial petition yet – a move he believes is designed to wear out the group’s financial resources.

“I have to anticipate appeals,” he said. “I think the governor wants to wear us out financially, because this is expensive and people are financing this litigation out of their own pockets.”

Cohen didn’t stop there, claiming Gov. Andrew Cuomo is threatening state employees, and even legislators, who might want to speak out against the move.

Democratic Assemblyman Mickey Kearns and Republican Sen. Pat Gallivan are leading the resistance, but Cohen said he believes other members of the Legislature would like to be more vocal – if only their fear of Cuomo wasn’t so strong.

“This governor has a lot of people scared,” he said. “There are members of the state Senate and the state Assembly who are frightened, who are saying: We’re getting some pressure from the governor now.”

In perhaps his most damning accusation against the governor, Cohen, both in court and following Wednesday’s proceedings, said he believes Cuomo wants to move what has been a successful and well-respected facility because he has plans for the land it sits on.

The attorney said he and others have tried to find out what those plans are, but are being stonewalled.

“What does Governor Cuomo want this land for?” Cohen asked. “What does he want to do with the beautiful park-like setting on which the Western New York CPC is located and the governor is mute. He doesn’t deflect. He just doesn’t respond to the question. He doesn’t say, well I haven’t thought about it. He knows what he wants to do.”

The governor’s office referred our request for a response to the state Office of Mental Health.

“We deal with facts, not conspiracy theories,” OMH spokesperson James Plastiris said. “Since the beginning of this process, OMH has been clear that relocation of WNYCPC will allow us to expand services to 1,000 additional children and families, increase coordination with local mental health systems, and provide opportunities for children to recover in a safe, secure and state-of-the art treatment setting. This is a win-win for the children and families of WNY.”

The Legislature did pass a bill to stop the children’s facility from moving, but it has yet to be delivered to the governor’s desk.

 

Defending Vance

For nearly eight years, Cy Vance has served as district attorney for New York County. He was preceded by legendary Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, who served in the position for nearly 45 years, and was often described as “beyond reproach.” Those were no doubt tough shoes to fill.

And now Vance is arguably facing the worst crisis of his tenure.

At issue are two cases in which Vance failed to prosecute, and both are absolutely explosive. The first involved two of President Trump’s adult children: Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr.

The second revolved around Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful movie executives in the nation, or at least he was until this week when several actresses and former employees accused him of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances, some of which may have been criminal.

But sources, including current and former Vance employees, say they have the utmost confidence in the DA’s legal ethics. They do not believe there was any impropriety, and also insist this was not an example of Vance giving anyone special treatment. They say Vance has “tremendous confidence in his career prosecutors” who do the day-to-day work of bringing cases against Manhattan’s criminals – even the high profile ones.

In the Trump case, WNYC Radio, ProPublica and the New Yorker reported last week that Vance’s office failed to prosecute the Trump offspring after they were accused of misrepresenting the success of the Trump SoHo Hotel and Condominium to investors.

Trump’s lawyer, who was granted a meeting with Vance, had also contributed more than $50,000 to Vance’s campaigns. Those donations have since been returned.

This week The New Yorker Magazine revealed an NYPD wiretap where Weinstein appears to admit to groping an Italian Actress, Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, in 2015.

The forcible touching incident was investigated by Vance and his office, and they ultimately declined to prosecute Weinstein. In light of all the new information that has come out about Weinstein’s serial behavior, that would seem to be the wrong decision.

But one former Assistant District Attorney, or ADA said: “I never would have gone forward on just that tape.”

The former prosecutor, who is “not a fan” of Vance, claims the tape did not provide enough evidence to prosecute. Vance also said as much, through Karen Friedman Agnifilo, the chief ADA, or the number two in the Manhattan DA’s office.

Agnifilo would have overseen any investigation related to Weinstein. She also previously served as the deputy chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, so she arguably knows a thing or two about the burden of proof in such cases. 

Martha Bashford is the current head of the Sex Crimes Unit, and would have made the initial determination on whether to move forward against Weinstein in 2015. Bashford was described as someone who has “the highest scruples,” and also someone who “does not care at all” about politics and would not have been intimidated by a boldface name like Weinstein’s.

When the audio of the NYPD sting involving Weinstein and Gutierrez surfaced, Agnifilo said that her “seasoned prosecutors” were not afforded the opportunity to “counsel investigators” on what was necessary to prove a crime under New York Law before the audio was captured in a sting.

An NYPD source then told NY1’s Dean Meminger that the investigators has handed prosecutors a solid case, and this was a complete failure by the Manhattan DA’s office to “protect women from a known predator.”

While it is unusual for this type of dispute to play out in public, prosecutors say this happens all the time between their office and the police department.

A common refrain from police officers is: “I answer to the Captain, not to you.” In essence, cops care about an arrest, and prosecutors care about a winnable case. Those two distinct goals come into conflict all the time, and that is because the standards for each differ greatly.

“Probable cause that a crime has been committed” is the standard for an arrest. “Reasonable Cause a felony has been committed” is the standard for an indictment, and “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard for a conviction. The gulf between an arrest and a conviction can sometimes be as wide as the “grand canyon.”

The International Business Times also reported that Attorney David Boies, who is working with Weinstein’s legal team had donated tens of thousands of dollars to Vance’s campaigns, including $10,000 after Vance failed to prosecute Weinstein in 2015.

Other lawyers connected to Trump have also made donations to Vance, so while there may not be any impropriety, some acknowledge there is at least the appearance of one, and the Manhattan DA’s office needs to be super careful about that.

No mater how you cut it, the timing looks awful.

Two stories within a week suggesting Vance dropped cases. One against Weinstein, who is arguably the most vilified man in America right now, and the other against Trump, who is perennially vilified in New York progressive circles.

But Vance’s supporters say it’s wrong to see a pattern here. Vance is a “very ethical man,” they insist, and both cases were independently investigated by two completely separate units within the DA’s office by the career prosecutors Vance trusts and relies upon. A lot of factors go into whether a case can be prosecuted successfully.

As for campaign contributions that look suspicious, they should always be scrutinized and reported, but it doesn’t necessarily prove corruption here or in any other case.

In fact, that’s the whole crux of the debate on campaign finance reform. What’s legal doesn’t always look right.

Vance also came from the private practice, which is a small community in New York of high-powered attorneys who know each other and raise money for various causes.

Is it a bit too nauseatingly chummy? Probably. But it’s hard to tell someone who their friends should be. And certainly Vance should be smarter about granting a meeting to a friend with business before his office like he did with Trump’s attorney Marc Kasowitz, because I think we all know that attorneys for most defendants in Manhattan are not granted that same privilege.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

President Donald Trump this morning will attend and speak at the 2017 Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.

In the afternoon, the president will deliver remarks on the Iran Strategy, and then later, together with First Lady Melania Trump, will visit the United States Secret Service James J. Rowley training facility.

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to New York City to deliver remarks at The Seminar Network’s Policy and Political Strategy Planning Retreat (at 1:45 p.m.), returning to D.C. this evening.

At 8:15 a.m., New York Law School’s CityLaw Breakfast Series continues with New York City First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, New York Law School, 185 W. Broadway, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli holds a press conference to discuss the Dignity for All Students Act and how well schools are doing in enforcing the act, OUT Alliance, 100 College Ave., Rochester.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Campaign Finance Board meets, 100 Church St., 12th floor, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Battery Park Police Memorial Wall ceremony, 385 South End Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer launches an effort to push the House of Representatives to quickly pass the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2017, Old Grist Mill Restaurant, 69 Hamilton Rd., Burlingham.

Also at 11 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie joins Assemblyman Frank Skartados on a tour of the former Beacon Correctional Facility , 50 Camp Beacon Rd., Beacon.

At noon, the National Organization of Women’s New York Chapter rallies outside of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office in response to his failure to prosecute Harvey Weinstein for sexually assaulting a young model in 2015, 100 Centre St., Manhattan.

Also at noon, prominent leaders of Westchester’s African-American community are joining together to endorse County Executive Rob Astorino for re-election, Friendship Worship Center, 261 E. Lincoln Ave., Mount Vernon.

At 1 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul honors the legacy of New York Suffragists at Carrying the Torch: Girl Scouts Convention, Wesleyan Chapel, 136 Fall St., Seneca Falls.

Also at 1 p.m., Schumer, joined by patients, doctors, and administrators at Nathan Littauer Hospital calls for the immediate renewal of two Medicare payment programs critical to the health of rural hospitals across the Capital Region, Nathan Littauer Hospital, 99 E. State St., Gloversville.

At 2:20 p.m., de Blasio will appear live on “Keepin’ It Real with Reverend Al Sharpton” on SiriusXM Urban View Channel 126.

At 2:30 p.m., Schumer visits Niagara Engine Co. 6 to present a flag, which was flown of the U.S. Capitol, to the entire fire company as they prepare to open their new firehouse on Saturday, 114 Fort Rd., Schoharie.

At 6:30 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is honored at Lincoln Hospital’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration, Lincoln Hospital Auditorium, 234 E. 149th St., the Bronx.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump plans today to deliver a broad and harsh critique of Iran in a speech declaring that the landmark Iran nuclear deal is not in America’s national security interests.

Trump will scrap subsidies to health insurance companies that help pay out-of-pocket costs of low-income people – a decision disclosed hours after he ordered potentially sweeping changes in the nation’s insurance system, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers.

Attorneys general from California and New York say they are prepared to sue the Trump administration to protect health-care subsides that the White House said would be cut off.

New York Democrats and health-care advocates said Trump’s policy provisions would undermine the delicate financial balance undergiurding health insurance — younger, healthier insurance policyholders and older, sicker ones paying into the same risk pool to keep costs at reasonable levels.

Trump will extend a March 5 deadline to end protections for young undocumented immigrants if Congress fails to act by then, according to a Republican senator who spoke directly with the president about the issue.

If the DACA deal-making in D.C. drags on too long, it could be disrupted by a different force: a federal judge in Brooklyn who has sternly warned that should policy makers prove unable to repair the program, he might have to do it.

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff made an unusual appearance from the briefing room podium yesterday, addressing head on rumors about his future in the West Wing. (He said that as of yesterday, he’s not going anywhere or being fired).

Kelly said the president is frustrated by both the media and Congress.

CNN anchor Erin Burnett labeled Trump the “hypocrite-in-chief” after he signed his 50th executive order in office – something he he harshly criticized former President Obama for doing.

House Speaker Paul Ryan went on the offensive against high-tax states like California, New York and New Jersey, even though disgruntled GOP lawmakers from those states need to be brought on board to support the $6 trillion tax overhaul.

The choice of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders as the lead speaker at the women’s convention in Detroit has sparked criticism from commentators, who suggested that a woman should have opened the event.

Former U.S. Secretary of State and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is in talks with Columbia University to take on a formal role at the Ivy League — and potentially house her archives there, multiple sources told the Daily News.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday he will give away all contributions Harvey Weinstein made to his political campaigns, hours after defending his decision to donate less than half.

In a statement, Cuomo’s campaign signaled it would donate more than $111,000 to unnamed women’s organizations, reversing its previous decision to give away only $50,000, the amount the disgraced film mogul gave to the governor’s 2018 campaign.

Basil A. Smikle Jr., the executive director of the state Democratic Party, who issued the statement on behalf of the governor’s campaign, said such a move was necessary to “dispense with the Republican ploys and focus on the real issues.”

“My message to everyone with current accounts with money from Harvey Weinstein is: Give that money back. Give it to charity. Get the hell away from it,” NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “No one in their right mind should be keeping money from Harvey Weinstein.”

The lawyer who helped Weinstein avoid charges for admittedly groping a model in 2015 has donated $26,550 in campaign cash to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. — including $2,100 after Vance let Weinstein off the hook.

The National Organization for Women of New York will hold a demonstration today outside Manhattan Criminal Court at noon to protest the DA’s decision not to bring charges against the film titan.

More >

Facing Criticism, Cuomo To Donate All Of Weinstein’s Money

All campaign contributions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo from movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who is facing a barrage of sexual assault and harassment allegations, will be donated, a top official in the state Democratic Committee said early Thursday evening.

The move comes after Cuomo hours earlier defended not returning all of Weinstein’s money that he had contributed to his campaigns over the years. He argued that some of the money had already been spent. And he pointed to broader issues facing women when it comes to assault on college campuses and harassment in the workplace.

Cuomo had previously said $50,000 of the $110,000 would be donated to groups that benefit women.

But Cuomo faced criticism for not donating the remaining $60,000 from Weinstein from his fellow Democrat and rival New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as well as from Republicans. Democratic elected officials from around the country were called on to donate Weinstein’s campaign money and many followed suit within days of the allegations being reported in The New York Times.

“The allegations against Harvey Weinstein are disturbing, horrid and the debate should be on how to best root out this reprehensible behavior and protect women from harassment and abuse. It’s shameful that some have sought to use this matter to score political points, but the real issues are far too serious to allow any distraction to overtake them,” said state Democratic Committee Executive Director Basil Smikle. “For that reason, the extraordinary step will be taken of giving all contributions from prior campaigns whose committees have been closed for years so that we can dispense with the Republican ploys and focus on the real issues.”

In the statement, Smikle pointed reiterated issues Republicans should tackle, including equal pay, Title IX protections for sexual assault on college campuses and abortion rights.

“Will Republicans accept the support of a president who himself disrespected, demeaned and harassed women?” he said. “Will they support pay equity? Where do they stand on Betsy DeVos rolling back Title 9 protection for sexual assault on college campuses? Do they support Roe v Wade? These are the answers that the people of this country deserve.”

AG Raises Possibility Of Court Challenge To Trump Order

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on THursday raised the possibility of yet another challenge in court to President Donald Trump executive order that seeks to unwind parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“Let me be clear: if the Trump Administration takes any action that violates the law — or tramples on New Yorkers’ constitutional rights — we will take them to court,” Schneiderman said. “In the meantime, my office will continue to defend the vital ACA subsidies in federal court for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and millions of Americans who rely on the quality, affordable health care they provide.”

Trump signed an executive order that allows for the purchase of cheaper insurance plans and for policyholders to participate in an insurance pool. Some health care advocates worry the move would result in sicker people in the regulated market and driving up costs in the process.

Schneiderman has sued Trump several times before on immigration policy as well as environmental regulations.

Extras

President Trump signed an executive order that clears the way for potentially sweeping changes in health insurance, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers than those mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

White House chief of staff John Kelly insists he’s not leaving his position, despite recent reports claiming he’s at odds with Trump.

Trump suggested that Puerto Rico is going to have to shoulder more responsibility for recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria, saying the federal government’s emergency responders can’t stay there “forever.”

Actress Rose McGowan’s Twitter account was temporarily suspended because one of her tweets regarding the Harvey Weinstein scandal included a private phone number, according to the social-media company.

Without mentioning the governor by name, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio demanded his fellow Democrats purge their coffers of contributions from Weinstein, saying anyone who keeps his cash is “not in their right mind.”

But, like Cuomo, de Blasio also said he can’t give back any cash he received from Weinstein – in his case, a $500 contribution made in 2001 during his successful run for the NYC Council – that has already been spent.

The NYPD has launched an investigation to find out whether there are additional sexual harassment or assault accusations against Weinstein.

“Dawson’s Creek” actor James Van Der Beek revealed on Twitter that he’d been groped by an older male executive in a position of power in the past.

About 1,000 state agency computers were frozen for two days this week due to a glitch in a security patch that Microsoft sent on Tuesday night, with the “blue screen of death” displaying on the state Department of Health and other agencies’ computers since Wednesday morning.

Russian efforts to meddle in American politics did not end at Facebook and Twitter. A CNN investigation of a Russian-linked account shows its tentacles extended to YouTube, Tumblr and even Pokémon Go.

The Department of Justice sternly warned a group of major cities – including New York – that they remain in violation of federal law by adopting so-called “sanctuary city” policies that shield undocumented immigrants from being reported to the feds.

Long Island can “own the space” in biomedical technology if it succeeds in commercializing the region’s research, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today at a groundbreaking for the $75 million Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Center for Therapeutics Research.

After Steve Bannon appeared on Fox News on Monday to declare war on Republican Senate incumbents and call for Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker to resign, he received a text from an unlikely fan: Jared Kushner.

NYSUT and its largest local affiliate, the UF, today sued to block the SUNY Charter Schools Committee from implementing illegal regulations that undermine the teaching profession by allowing unqualified teachers to work in SUNY-authorized charter schools.

Nicholas Wan, a 27-year-old Binghamton man promising “America’s most radical congressional campaign,” has launched an unconventional bid to challenge conservative Rep. Claudia Tenney in a Republican primary.

The car used by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his time as New York governor got its turn in the reality television spotlight last month, featured in the Sept. 5 episode of Chasing Classic Cars, though few state-government watchers seemed to notice.

Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning announced she will seek the Democratic nomination to run against Rep. Lee Zeldin next year.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick: “Financial adversity and scarcity and austerity, and being shocked into a global awareness, means that our generation is primed and prepared for greatness.”

New York is a top-10 contender for Amazon’s much-sought-after second headquarters but faces stiff competition, according to a just-released analysis from Moody’s Analytics.

At a meeting of a plastic bag task force created by the governor, representatives of various groups seemed to agree that they would by year end recommend some sort of control on the bags which can be seen littering roadsides across the state.

Former Syracuse Chiefs general manager John Simone has made his views known about the planned deal to sell the franchise to the New York Mets, accusing Chiefs president Bill Dutch of cashing out on the team and being a sellout.

Putnam town supervisors have turned on County Executive MaryEllen Odell, claiming she snubbed them this summer over a shared-services plan to save tax dollars.

House Ethics Committee Releases Report On Collins’ Stock Dealings

According to a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, released Thursday by the House Ethics Committee, there is “substantial reason to believe” Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY, violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law. At the recommendation of the office’s report, the committee is continuing to investigate the allegations, which surround Collins’ involvement with pharmaceutical company Innate Immunotherapeutics.

The report, which was initially adopted by OCE in July, recommends further review of the allegation the congressman shared nonpublic information in the purchase of Innate stock. It also claimed there was substantial reason to believe Collins took official action or requested official actions that would benefit the company he had a significant financial interest in.

The office did recommend dismissing allegations the Republican purchased discounted stock that was not available to the public and that was offered to him based on his status as a member of the House. In his response, Collins agreed with that assessment but rejected the other two.

“Each recommendation is the result of a tortured interpretation of reality and also bespeaks a misunderstanding of the facts, the law or both and should be rejected,” his attorney said.

He told the House Ethics Committee the recommendations should be dismissed without further investigation and said the basis for the initial review were politically motivated accusations from Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.

“Many people, including many members of Congress from his own party, were concerned by his zealous pursuit of profits when he should have been representing his constituents,” Slaughter said. “Former Secretary Tom Price, who refused to cooperate with this investigation, was involved in this scandal and was eventually forced to sell the same stocks in question due to conflicts of interest. He ultimately resigned from the Trump administration as a result of his ethical lapses. Now, the Office of Congressional Ethics has found clear and convincing evidence that Congressman Collins likely broke federal law. He put his obsession to enrich himself before the people he swore to represent. It is a disgrace to Congress and to his constituents, who deserve better.”

OCE said it found evidence that Collins sent emails to shareholders with background information about the company, including information about the number of clinical trial participants and timeline, that were not disclosed publicly.  It also detailed communications between Collins’ office and officials from the National Institute of Health, potentially about the company.

The House Ethics Committee said it can’t make any other public comment until the initial review is completed.

Stefanik Backs Trump’s Health Care Executive Order

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik praised the executive order issued Thursday by President Donald Trump that is designed to loosen some regulations for the Affordable Care Act.

The move is aimed at allowing some people to purchase cheaper plans with less coverage and pool coverage in groups after Republicans in Congress failed to agree on a plan that would repeal or overhaul the law, known as Obamacare.

However, some worry the move could place sicker people into more expensive plans and driving up costs in the process.

“Families and businesses in my district deserve more choice in healthcare, and I applaud these efforts to lower costs,” Stefanik said in a statement. “Allowing employers to pool together and purchase insurance across state lines is commonsense and will allow more people to access affordable coverage. I will continue to work in Congress on bipartisan healthcare solutions to help lower costs, increase access and improve quality.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in a series of statements knocked individual Republicans in the House over the issue.

“Rep. Elise Stefanik and the do-nothing Republican Congress has failed to do anything to address the rising cost of healthcare or the instability in healthcare markets created by President Trump’s erratic behavior and reckless executive order,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske. “Elise Stefanik should put politics aside and work with Democrats to make healthcare more affordable or be ready for voters to show her the door in 2018.”

The full impact of the executive order is not expected to be fully phased in for several weeks, if not months.