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The indictment of Rep. Chris Collins on insider trading charges is drawing new attention to the freedom members of Congress have to serve on corporate boards or to buy and sell stock in industries they're responsible for overseeing. Collins, a New York Republican, has denied any wrongdoing stemming from his involvement with Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited, a biotechnology company based in Sydney, Australia. He was Innate's largest shareholder, holding nearly 17 percent of its shares. He also was a member of the company's board of directors – an arrangement that itself isn't a violation of the law. Members of Congress are not prohibited from serving on corporate boards as long as they don't receive compensation for doing so.Government ethics lawyer Kathleen Clark said another downside of permitting members of Congress to be on corporate boards is they may feel a sense of loyalty to the business, spurring them to share information with the company they obtained through government service.Two New York lawmakers, Democrat Kathleen Rice and Republican Tom Reed, announced Thursday they plan to introduce legislation that would update House rules to prohibit members from serving on the boards of publicly held firms.It's difficult to know how many lawmakers have board positions.
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