Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., used campaign funds to pay legal bills while he faced investigation for alleged insider trading for more than a year.
A federal criminal investigation culminated in his arrest Wednesday, but before that he was under scrutiny by congressional ethics investigators.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York allege that Collins, while he was a board member of Australian company Innate Immunotherapeutics, gave a tip to his son Cameron last year about a failed drug trial that would soon be announced. His son used that information to dump the stock and avoid a six-figure loss, the Justice Department alleges, and Cameron Collins passed that information along to his father-in-law.
The two men were charged along with Collins. All three pleaded not guilty.
Since July 2017, Federal Election Commission records show Collins' campaign has been paying up to $60,000 per month in legal services to prestigious law firm BakerHostetler. The firm is representing Collins in the case.
While it is legal to use campaign funds to pay for legal fees, it's not clear whether Collins' constituents and supporters were aware that donations were being used to assist his legal fight.
These legal fees covered the time period of two separate House probes, including one by the Office of Congressional Ethics and another by the House Ethics Committee.
A spokesman for the Collins legal team confirmed that the payments from the campaign were for the investigation by the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics and an ongoing inquiry by the House Ethics Committee. Going forward, the congressman will pay for his legal bills out of his own pocket, the spokesman added.
A spokesperson for the Collins campaign did not return a request for comment. Collins retired from Innate's board in early May 2018.