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Joe Nocera

For This Trump Nominee, It Was Better to Be Lucky

Yes, HHS choice Tom Price has ethics problems. But it's no crime to be in the right place at the right time.
No wonder he's smiling.

No wonder he's smiling.

Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

When I wrote about Tom Price's health-care stocks on Tuesday, I was in a state of high dudgeon. Price, the Georgia congressman who is President Donald Trump's nominee to be secretary of Health and Human Services, has a portfolio clotted with pharmaceutical, medical device and health-care companies -- this despite sitting on an important health subcommittee and taking repeated actions aimed at helping those companies. While I doubt Price did anything illegal, he clearly acted unethically, ignoring the kind of conflicts of interest that would get most of us fired.

The one stock I didn't dwell on was the one that's gotten the most attention: Innate Immunotherapeutics, a tiny Australian penny stock. Because it was so obscure, I wanted to do a little more digging. Which I've now done. And while Price's ownership of the stock has caused Democrats to howl -- Senator Ron Wyden accused Price of insider trading at a confirmation hearing on Tuesday -- I came away more amused than anything else. You know what they say: Sometimes it's better to be lucky than crooked. (They do say that, don't they?)