Representative Tom Price was nearly out of the woods, despite mammoth confusion over the Trump administration’s plans in the areas he would supervise as secretary of Health and Human Services, and also notwithstanding hazily answered questions from Senate Democrats about his dubious habit of investing, while he was in Congress, in companies potentially affected by health-care legislation. But a new revelation from the Australian biomedical company at the center of these questions has raised new suspicions Price has been hiding something. The Wall Street Journal had the story today:
Rep. Tom Price got a privileged offer to buy a biomedical stock at a discount, the company’s officials said, contrary to his congressional testimony this month.
The Georgia Republican tapped by President Donald Trump to be secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services testified in his Senate confirmation hearings on Jan. 18 and 24 that the discounted shares he bought in Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., an Australian medical biotechnology company, “were available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.”
In fact, 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.
This is precisely the concern Senate Democrats have doggedly pursued: Price got a sweetheart deal via his House colleague Chris Collins, from New York, who was reportedly heard boasting he had made some friends a lot of money with tips to buy this stock. At a minimum, Price will have to once again refresh his memory: Initially he disclaimed any personal involvement in the purchase of the stock, before admitting that, oh yeah, he directed it after talking to Collins.
The controversy over this particular stock draws additional attention to the more generally shady habit Price has had of investing in companies that could definitely be affected by his legislative activity.
Mr. Price has traded more than $300,000 in shares of health-related companies since 2012, while on the House Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on health and while writing and voting on health-care legislation that could affect the shares of those stocks, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal.
So this issue arises once again on the very eve of Tuesday’s scheduled vote in the Finance Committee on Price’s confirmation. Democrats may be stiffed by Committee Chairman and Utah Republican Orrin Hatch from reopening questions about Price’s financial irregularities. But it’s bound to come up again on the Senate floor, assuming the latest news doesn’t screw up Price’s expected committee approval on a party-line vote. He should have probably been more forthcoming on this matter early on.