Abruptly fired last week after refusing to resign, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was reportedly investigating dubious stock trades and potential insider trading committed by the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price. Although Bharara has not publicly acknowledged the investigation, his recent tweets have indicated that the federal prosecutor was intentionally removed from an ongoing investigation into public corruption.
According to ProPublica, Bharara had launched an investigation into Price’s stock trades after he failed to properly disclose information regarding his stock trades in an Australian biomedical company during a confirmation hearing. During Price’s fast-tracked confirmation as HHS Secretary, Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter and wrote, “@HHSGov nom Price lied to the Senate about a sweetheart stock deal. @USTreasury nom Mnuchin lied about his bank’s illegal foreclosures.”
While serving as a U.S. Representative from Georgia’s 6th congressional district, Price chaired the House Budget Committee and sat on the Ways and Means Committee’s health panel. According to The Wall Street Journal, Price traded more than $300,000 in shares of health-related companies over the past four years while sponsoring and advocating legislation that could potentially affect those corporations.
Privately offered discounted shares from an Australian biotech firm named Innate Immunotherapeutics, Price began purchasing shares in 2015 and has already seen about a 400 percent paper gain in his investment in Innate Immuno. Less than a week after purchasing shares of medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet, Price introduced legislation to delay a regulation that would have harmed the company’s bottom line, according to CNN.
Weeks after investing as much as $90,000 in six pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Amgen, McKesson, Biogen, and Pfizer, Price co-sponsored legislation that ultimately killed proposed regulatory changes that would have likely hurt those corporations. These six pharmaceutical companies contribute millions of campaign donations to candidates for both major political parties every year.
Accused of incessant insider trading and abusing the power of his office for financial gain, Price was reportedly under federal investigation when President Trump allegedly decided to protect his HHS Secretary by firing Bharara without notice. After refusing to turn in his resignation, Bharara took to Twitter and wrote, “I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the U.S. Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”
The next day, Bharara tweeted, “By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like.”
Less than a year after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption, Gov. Cuomo disbanded the commission after discovering that several of his associates were under investigation. In September, Bharara’s office announced public corruption charges against two former top aides to Gov. Cuomo, a senior state official, and six others allegedly involved in bribery and state contracts.
According to ProPublica, Bharara’s office was also determining whether to launch an investigation into payments that Trump has received from foreign governments through his Manhattan-based business.