When GOP Rep. Billy Long (R-7) first ran for Congress there were whispers that, in today’s parlance, he was more than familiar with the swamp that his idol, Donald Trump – evidently facetiously – promised to drain. With the arrest of New York GOP Rep. Chris Collins for insider trading, the swamp gas miasma around Long has thickened. Collins has been stripped of his position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and he is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. The question is why isn’t Rep. Long under similar investigation – or maybe he is and we just don’t know about it?
As The Daily Beast reported last year, Collins authored four bills that would likely have benefited the company. Two of them, separate versions of the same bill introduced in the 114th and 115th Congresses, had just one cosponsor: Rep. Billy Long (R-MO), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, which has oversight over the Food and Drug Administration. While no one has accused him of any legal wrongdoing, Long also held stock in Innate. Long signed on to both pieces of legislation the day they were introduced. The first was filed in December 2016, and didn’t make it out of subcommittee before the session ended.
Then in January, Long bought between $15,000 and $50,000 in Innate stock, apparently as part of a Fidelity retirement account. In July, Collins once again introduced his bill, which would have expedited FDA approvals for treatments such as Innate’s, and Long was once again an immediate co-sponsor.
Long’s staff is of course denying that Long had any insider info from his colleague Collins with whom he coordinated to pass legislation that would enhance both their financial bottom lines – instead, his spokesperson claims, he just happened to decide to buy the Innate stock ” ‘when it became a daily topic on the nightly news in January of 2017,’ a timeline that suggests that Long, not a financial brokerage, made the decision to purchase Innate stock.” However, the circumstantial evidence amassed by Talking Points Memo (TPM) that Long and other GOP colleagues may have received insider information from Collins is somewhat compelling. As TPM notes:
[…] they all say they were just following the market and doing their own research. It had nothing to do with Chris Collins. Well, lots of reporting says Collins was pitching colleagues on it hard. And it seems like quite a coincidence that 5 members of Congress, all Republicans bought in. This seems to bear a lot more scrutiny.
Certainly, we know that Rep. Long is inclined to go easy when it comes to forestalling corrupt behavior, as would befit a guy with a reputation for being on the make. Remember Long’s 2017 vote to gut the Cardin-Lugar anti-corruption rule, “a major bipartisan law that helps safeguard trillions of dollars of payments to the US and governments around the world.”
However, given that most GOPers in the House voted the same way, – the party of corrupton perhaps? – I’m not holding my breath and would recommend that you also refrain to do so if you expect to see Long perp-walked out of Congress. The law got Collins fair and square, looks like Long may weasel out – and his fellow GOPers will probably be just fine with that -particularly those who may be equally guilty of conspiring with Collins to line their personal pockets.