Chicken-Fried News: Bad company 

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You know what they say about congressmen: It’s all drugs, sex and rock and roll. Wait. Maybe that’s a step too far. For congressmen, we suppose, it’s more like pharmaceutical drugs and insider trading, sexual harassment and fancy-schmancy parties on the lawn of the White House where it all goes down.

This week’s political scandal once again puts an Oklahoma congressman in the national spotlight.

U.S. House Representative and member of a health subcommittee Christopher Collins (R-New York) was arrested last week and charged with insider trading after he allegedly sold shares of MIS416, a drug that was developed by Australian pharmaceutical company Innate Immunotherapeutics (INNMF). Collins was on the board of the foreign pharmaceutical company when he was told by one of its chief members that MIS416 was unsuccessful in meeting its intending purpose (treating muscular sclerosis). After receiving the news, the congressman allegedly hustled to sell off the company’s bad stock before the information could go public. His scheme saved himself, his family and INNMF from suffering extreme financial losses.

In what can only be described as a an act of heroism, Collins was able to step aside from his mingling duties at a congressional picnic at the White House, receive the news that the drug was unsuccessful, get his son on the phone and save himself and his family from what might have been a hard financial blow.

News that the drug was unsuccessful came after Collins convinced several of his fellow congressmen to invest in it. One such congressman was Oklahoma’s own Markwayne Mullin, a Republican from Tulsa. Mullin allegedly purchased 110 shares of the drug’s stock in an over-the-counter purchase in January. Whether or not Mullin received a tip-off from Collins and sold his stock before it plunged is unknown.

Coincidentally, however, Mullin and Collins both sit on the House Committee of Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health. Before news of MIS416s’ failure hit Collins, he authored a section of the 21st Century Cures Act, which proposed expediting the drug approval process in the United States, a move that would no doubt benefit INNMF and its investors, should the company seek approval from the Food & Drug Administration. Mullin supported the proposal.

Frantic phone calls to spare oneself financial hardship, investing in foreign pharmaceutical companies, gaining leadership positions in the company in which one invests and using one’s position as a congressman to push for legislation that would benefit private business deals doesn’t sound too scandalous, does it? Collins was merely trying to benefit from his work. The only way this would be just plain wrong is if Collins was sworn into a public office to protect the public from private interests. Oh wait…

Collins used taxpayer dollars to push for legislation that would benefit his interests and potentially harm a public he swore to protect. This guy’s track record stinks no matter how much Donald J. Trump Success cologne you spray on it. Spoiler alert: Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump for president.

For Mullins’ sake and for the sake of our fellow Okies, our fingers are crossed that one is not the company they keep, because in a state that ranks 46th in overall health, we could sure use an advocate in Congress and not another guy whose head is shoved up — well, you get it.

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