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Slaughter criticizes Collins over role in dormant company

WASHINGTON - Rep. Chris Collins didn't report his role with a dormant company on his personal financial disclosure forms — and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter isn't happy about it.

Slaughter wrote a letter last week to the House Ethics Committee — which is investigating Collins' involvement with Innate Immunotherapeutics — criticizing Collins for not reporting his position in a separate joint venture involving the Australian biotech firm.

Public documents show that Collins, a Clarence Republican, served as chairman of Buckler Biodefense, a joint venture between Innate's predecessor company and ZeptoMetrix, Collins' company, starting in 2005.

Innate's financial statements show that Buckler was dormant, and that Innate wrote off its losses on it, by March 31, 2011 — a year before Collins ran for Congress.

But the company continued to exist, on paper, until it was dissolved in February 2016.

In her letter, Slaughter noted the Ethics in Government Act and House ethics rules require lawmakers to disclose their positions with any such companies.

"Despite this requirement, Chris Collins' position as chairman of Buckler Biodefense does not appear in any of his disclosure forms," Slaughter told the Ethics Committee. "I trust that you will find this information useful as the Ethics Committee continues its review of the matter regarding Rep. Chris Collins."

Asked about Slaughter's letter, Collins' political adviser, Christopher M. Grant, Wednesday dismissed it as a "nothingburger" — and proof Slaughter, a Fairport Democrat, has a vendetta against Collins.

"It's pretty unbelievable that a sitting member (of Congress) is going to these depths," Grant said. "It's an indication of this continuing political witch hunt of hers."

Innate's predecessor company and Collins' company formed Buckler in hopes of developing a treatment for anthrax, but the company never marketed a product or earned a dollar, Grant said. It operated as a subsidiary of Innate and ZeptoMetrics — and Collins has consistently reported his involvement in those two companies on his personal financial disclosure forms.

Slaughter has complained not only to the Ethics Committee, but to the Office of Government Ethics, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York about Collins' role in Innate. Collins is the company's largest shareholder and was re-elected to its board in August.

The House Ethics Committee is investigating Collins' involvement with Innate. Collins allegedly touted Innate's stock to his congressional colleagues and leading figures in the Buffalo community.

A closer look at the allegations lodged against Collins

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