Rep. Mullin still holds stock in company at center of New York criminal case

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Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin. Courtesy.

An Oklahoma Congressman who last year purchased more than $100,000 worth of stock in a pharmaceutical company at the center of federal insider trading charges against a New York Congressman still owns that stock and is not under investigation, a spokesman said Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who represents Oklahoma’s Second Congressional District, purchased more than $100,000 worth of stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian pharmaceutical company that had been developing a drug for patients with multiple sclerosis in January 2017.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors announced that Congressman Chris Collins, R-NY, along with his son and the father of his son’s ’s fiancée, had been charged with multiple counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and lying to investigators for allegedly dumping their holdings of Innate’s stock after learning that, prior to a public announcement, tests showed its multiple sclerosis drug — the only product made by the company — did not work.

Days after Collins was allegedly tipped off by company executives that the drug did not work, the test results were publicly announced and Innate’s stock cratered, losing more than 90 percent of its value.

Collins, who also sits on Innate’s board of directors, has called the charges “meritless” and said he will not step down. All three of the men charged have pleaded not guilty.

Mullin was one of at least five members of Congress who had purchased stock in the small Australian pharmaceutical company, though the charges filed Wednesday do not state whether the stock was purchased at the recommendation of Collins, who was one of the first Congressional supporters of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Though some Congressmen who held the stock sold it prior to Innate’s public announcement on June 26, 2017, Mullin was not one of them, a spokeswoman said.

“He still owns the stock and is not under investigation,” said Amy Lawrence, spokeswoman for Mullin’s office.

Mullin served with Collins on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over most of the nation’s health sector, including insurance, pharmaceuticals and biomedical research.

After Collins’s indictment was announced Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) stripped Collins of his committee membership.

Mullin was appointed to the Health Subcommittee on Jan. 9, 2017, three days before purchasing the Innate stock, records show.

Mullin’s purchase also came the day before a New York Times story was published on Jan. 13, 2017, reporting investors in the company included several Washington D.C. power players, such as former Georgia GOP Congressman Tom Price, who had been nominated by President Donald Trump to head the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Price later resigned as head of Health and Human Services after it was revealed he had used more than $1 million of taxpayer funds to charter private jets and military aircraft for his personal travels.

“Congressman Mullin learned of Innate when it became a newsworthy topic,” Lawrence said in a statement to The Frontier. “When then-Congressman Tom Price was being considered as the secretary of Health and Human Services, the Congressman decided to invest in Innate, only after doing his own personal research of the company.”

Lawrence did not respond to follow-up questions from The Frontier asking whether Mullin had ever been approached by Collins about purchasing Innate’s stock or whether Mullin had been interviewed by federal investigators looking into the insider-trading allegations against Collins.

Mullin’s investment in Innate’s stock was reported last year by journalist Justin Wingerter, who found that the amount of money Mullin claimed he invested — between $100,001 and $250,000 — did not line up with the amount number of shares he claimed to have purchased based on the price of the stock at the time, though Lawrence said at the time Mullin’s filing was accurate.

Earlier this year, Mullin requested an extension for filing his financial disclosure documents. That report is due on Monday.

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Clifton Adcock

Senior Staff Writer

A veteran investigative reporter who has covered eastern Oklahoma for more than 15 years, Clifton joined The Frontier in April 2017. A native of southeastern Oklahoma, he has covered numerous issues from criminal justice to politics for publications including the Tulsa World, the Oklahoma Gazette, and Oklahoma Watch. Clifton holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Clifton can be reached at clifton@readfrontier.com. Follow him on Twitter @cliftonhowze
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