Collins was convicted of insider trading and lying to the FBI after he told his son about a failed trial for a multiple sclerosis drug. The investigative story highlights how the Innate Immunotherapeutics controversy is an example of problems with the Australian Securities Exchange, how the drug company was supposed to benefit people living with the disease, and how stock holders in the company lost thousands of dollars.
"Everyone's pretty fascinated with anything to do with Donald Trump and the fact that Chris Collins was the first congressman to endorse Donald Trump and was on his transition team, he was touted as a possible White House Chief of Staff or cabinet secretary, that really elevates him as a person of interest in our eyes," Four Corners Investigative Reporter Stephanie March told WBEN. "Because the company that his insider trading conviction was associated with is an Australian company...the thing that got me thinking was 'Who were the shareholders and the patients down on my side of the world that were affected by these drug trial failures that were Chris Collins' undoing?'."
The piece features comments from Cecily Molak, a retired lawyer from Collins' district who was concerned about Collins' using his platform in Congress as a way to promote his business. It also features interview excerpts from political operative Michael Caputo, who has long supported Collins during his political career.
"If you watch it, you'll see some similarities to our own '60 Minutes' on CBS here in the United States," Caputo said. "At first, I was reticent to do it because I don't really want to talk about the problems that people I know face. You never know what the family thinks about that kind of input. But then it became very clear to me that Stephanie was probably not going to be able to get an interview with anybody who supported Chris Collins. I wanted to be able to provide some kind of context and balance to the piece and I think it came off okay."
Jerry Zremski, the Buffalo News reporter credited with uncovering the Collins controversy, was heavily featured in the story. Zremski declined an interview with WBEN and Molak did not respond to our request for comment.
Caputo described March's work as "thorough", but also described March as a "decidedly liberal" television reporter. He praised March for highlighting the people who participated in the failed drug trial.
"I think everybody should watch this documentary on YouTube because it gives a different perspective," Caputo said.
One of the highlights of the story was March's attempts to have Collins answer questions over his involvement in the scandal. The journalist flew to the United States from Australia and visited Buffalo, then Florida where she found him at his children's home.
"I went up and knocked on the door and I could see him through the window sitting on his back porch," she said. "He looked up and saw me through the window and dashed away. I texted him to say I came from Australia and would really like if you could come out and talk to us...He refused to come out and speak to us. It was really important for us to try and get his voice."
Collins told her that he did not want to talk and saw no benefit in talking to her. She said he apologized to her for making the trip only to get no interview. March has texted Collins since he was sentenced last month.
"He said he didn't see any benefit," March said. "All he wanted was for his son to get a favorable sentence."
Collins was sentenced to 26 months in prison for his role in the insider trading scandal. His son, Cameron, and Stephen Zarsky avoided jail time but were sentenced to probation last month in New York City.