After Coronavirus Briefings, 4 Senators Dumped Stocks

Burr reassured public but privately gave dire warnings about pandemic
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2020 4:54 AM CDT
Updated Mar 20, 2020 6:44 AM CDT
After Coronavirus Briefings, 2 Senators Dumped Stocks
Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, walks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, during a break in the impeachment trial of Presiden Trump.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A number of senators who received briefings on the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year publicly offered reassurances that America was ready—and privately sold off large amounts of their stock holdings. Bloomberg puts the count at four members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Coverage:

  • Chairman Richard Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13, a week before the market started to tank, ProPublica reports. Records show that the stocks sold by Burr, a North Carolina Republican who was receiving daily briefings on the coronavirus outbreak at the time, included holdings in hotels, shipping firms, and other industries hit hard by the pandemic, reports the Washington Post. Burr's net worth was estimated at $1.7 million in 2018, meaning the sale likely included most or all of his holdings, ProPublica notes.

  • Burr is also under scrutiny for remarks he made to a group of VIPs at a private luncheon on Feb. 27. He gave them warnings much stronger than anything he had said in public. "It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history," he said, according to a recording obtained by NPR. "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic."
  • The Daily Beast reports that Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the newest member of the Senate, sold up to $3 million in stock between Jan. 24, the day of a private all-senators meeting on the coronavirus threat, and mid-February. Loeffler, a Republican from Georgia, jointly owned the stocks with her husband, New York Stock Exchange chairman Jeffrey Sprecher. Government watchdogs have called for an ethics investigation to determine whether lawmakers profited from inside information, the Post reports.
  • Bloomberg cites financial records showing committee members Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, and Republican James Inhofe also sold stock after the January briefings. Feinstein unloaded millions of dollars worth of shares in the biotech company Allogene Therapeutics; Inhofe got rid of $400,000 worth of stock, some of it PayPal and the real estate company Brookfield Asset Management.
(More Richard Burr stories.)

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