Sen. Kelly Loeffler defends stock sales ahead of massive coronavirus market sell-off
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, who chairs the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, sold $ 1.7 million in shares just before the February stock market crash amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Several other senators sold large holdings of securities around the same time, according to Senate reports.
According to the documents, Richard Burr and his wife entered into 33 separate transactions, with revenues ranging from $ 600,000 to $ 1.7 million. Shortly thereafter, the market began to fall as government health officials began to warn of the effects of the virus..
In February, Burr gave a speech in his home state in which he predicted serious consequences from the virus, including school closures and reduced tourist arrivals..
According to National Public Radio (NPR), the senator told a small group of people in North Carolina that the virus could be much more aggressive than anything seen in modern history and is likely to resemble the 1918 pandemic..
These private revelations by Burr were significantly different from those he made publicly. A week earlier, February 7, Burr co-authored with Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander published an article providing encouraging and encouraging words for Americans deeply concerned about COVID-19.
«Fortunately, the US is better prepared than ever for new public health threats like the coronavirus. This is largely due to the work of the Senate Health Committee, as well as Congress and the Donald Trump administration.», – stated in article.
So far, no indication has been found that Burr had any inside information that prompted him to sell the stock..
Members of Congress are prohibited from trading stocks based on information that is not available to the entire public. At the same time, Burr was among only three senators who voted against this measure in 2012..
The Senator’s spokesman told CBS News that Burr «filed a financial reporting form for personal transactions made weeks before signs of volatility appeared in the US financial markets due to the growing coronavirus outbreak. He is deeply concerned about the dramatic and sudden impact of this pandemic on our economy.».
Burr posted a statement on Twitter stating that he relied solely on public information to decide whether to sell securities..
«I understand the suspicions that could have caused my actions, but this morning I asked the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee to begin an analysis of this issue with full transparency.», – he noted.
Before media reports of the sales surfaced, Burr blamed NPR in a series of tweets, naming their story «hit tabloid» highlighting that NPR knowingly and irresponsibly misrepresented his speech about the virus that he gave last month.
«The message I shared with my constituents is what health officials have been delivering to the world.», – Burr wrote.
It is worth noting that he was not the only senator to sell shares just before the sharp decline due to the global pandemic..
Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler and her husband also sold millions of dollars in shares in late January and early February, when Senators began receiving briefings on the coronavirus outbreak..
The Daily Beast reported that Loeffler sold the shares on the same day that a private health briefing from government officials took place..
Pennsylvania Democrat Congressman Brendan Boyle tweeted that he «officially transfers» the Burr and Loeffler cases to the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the situation.
After it was reported that Rep. Susan Davis (Susan Davis) from California, also sold thousands of dollars in shares of Alaska Air and a cruise company Royal Caribbean. Senator Mitch McConnell’s senior aide in mid-January acquired Moderna, Inc., a biotech company that had announced four days earlier that it would begin developing a coronavirus vaccine. And Senator’s aide Jeanne Shaheen, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sold off shares in various companies, including Delta Airlines in late January, and then bought shares in Clorox. Inc., which manufactures bleaches and sanitary napkins.
These actions show that – as much of the population has been stumped by the pandemic and recession over the past two weeks – a number of lawmakers, their aides and brokers who help manage their portfolios have adjusted their investments. Legislators in both chambers were briefed at both secret and unclassified coronavirus meetings in late January and February, allowing the people on Capitol Hill to take a closer look at how the coming pandemic could impact their lives and finances, which are lacking significant parts of the country.
Legislators are prohibited from trading stocks based on proprietary information. But they are allowed to buy and sell shares based on public information they receive on Capitol Hill, provided they disclose the facts of these transactions within 30 days. This liberal approach to buying and selling shares for the legislature (the executive has stricter rules) has drawn criticism from oversight bodies, who argue that freedom of trade is not as important as the need for the public to trust Congress to act only from their names.