(Bloomberg) -- Republican Christopher Collins, an early backer of Donald Trump’s presidential bid, has suspended his re-election campaign for the U.S. House to fight charges he engaged in insider trading in the shares of an Australian biotechnology firm.
After “extensive deliberations” with family and friends, the New York lawmaker decided it was in the best interests of his constituents to suspend his campaign, Collins said Saturday in a statement on his Twitter account.
Collins, who represents the 27th District of New York, his son Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins’s fiancée, were charged by federal prosecutors this week in Manhattan. Prosecutors believe it to be the first insider-trading case against a sitting congressman.
“I will continue to fight the meritless charges brought against me and I look forward to having my good name cleared of any wrongdoing,” Collins, 68, said Saturday. He had initially vowed to continue his campaign.
Midterm elections in Congress are scheduled for Nov. 6. Collins’s district in western New York state, which includes parts of the Buffalo and Rochester suburbs as well as rural areas, is solidly Republican and voted heavily for Trump in 2016.
Clinical Trial Tip
Collins, the first House Republican to endorse Trump for president, is accused of tipping off his son about negative results in a clinical trial for a drug being developed by Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. to treat a form of multiple sclerosis, according to prosecutors. One of the company’s largest shareholders, Collins served on the company’s board and had access to information that wasn’t public.
His son then passed the news to his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s mother, Zarsky and a friend, prosecutors said. In the four days before the negative drug news was announced, they and others sold more than 1.78 million Innate shares, avoiding losses of about $768,000, prosecutors said.
Collins, his son and Zarsky pleaded not guilty in a federal court appearance this week in Manhattan. Prosecutors asked for a $500,000 bond for each man.
The case is U.S. v Collins, 18-cr-567, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
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