Congress member Tom Price, Donald Trump’s pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services, has been under fire for trading health care stocks while writing laws that impacted the companies he was investing in. And now, according to the Wall Street Journal’s James Grimaldi, it looks like he may have doubled his trouble by not being entirely accurate in his statements to Congress during his two rounds of confirmation hearings.
What’s at issue specifically is his purchase of discounted shares in an Australian biotechnology company called Innate Immunotherapeutics. During Senate confirmation hearings, he was asked about this apparent sweetheart deal and testified that the shares “were available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.”
Grimaldi’s reporting says that’s false.
“In fact,” he reports “the cabinet nominee was one of fewer than 20 U.S. investors who were invited last year to buy discounted shares of the company—an opportunity that, for Mr. Price, arose from an invitation from a company director and fellow congressmen.”
The legislator in question is Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), who, along with other members of his family, owns about 20 percent of the company. It’s not entirely clear if Collins was doing a favor for Price as a friend or giving him the discount shares in an effort to secure favorable legislative treatment of the company down the road — or even if it’s necessary to choose one or the other. But the value of Price’s shares has tripled, so he’s certainly benefitted from his special offer.
Republican senators have not expressed any disquiet about Price’s nomination despite his shady stock antics, and there’s little reason to believe that making false statements to Congress will change their views about that. Price, unlike Donald Trump, is a longstanding proponent of cuts to Medicare and Medicare, so most Republicans regard his nomination as a reassuring sign that Trump will implement their policy agenda.