Two GOP senators, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, sold millions of dollars worth of stock after receiving closed-door briefings about the impending coronavirus crisis.
As we reported Thursday, Burr went on to privately warn a group of wealthy constituents that the coronavirus outbreak would be comparable to the 1918 flu pandemic while publicly toeing the White House line and downplaying its potential impact. Burr was also one of only three senators who opposed a 2012 bill that explicitly barred lawmakers and staff from using nonpublic information for stock trades, and required public disclosure of the trades.
Meanwhile, Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey C. Sprecher, is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.
ProPublica reports: Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions. As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time, according to a Reuters story. A week after Burr’s sales, the stock market began a sharp decline and has lost about 30% since.
From the Daily Beast: Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) reported the first sale of stock jointly owned by her and her husband on Jan. 24, the very day that her committee, the Senate Health Committee, hosted a private, all-senators briefing from administration officials, including the CDC director and Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on the coronavirus. “Appreciate today’s briefing from the President’s top health officials on the novel coronavirus outbreak,” she tweeted about the briefing at the time. … It was the first of 29 stock transactions that Loeffler and her husband made through mid-February, all but two of which were sales. One of Loeffler’s two purchases was stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software and which has seen a small bump in its stock price since Loeffler bought in as a result of coronavirus-induced market turmoil.
In response to the reports, Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among those called for both Burr and Loeffler to resign.
UPDATE: Raw Story reports that Sens. Jim Inhofe and Ron Johnson have also been implicated in the GOP stock-selling scandal. And the New York Times notes that Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein dumped major holdings around the same time.