“He (Burr) had inside information about what could happen to our country, which is now happening, but he didn’t warn the public. He didn’t give a primetime address. He didn’t go on television to sound the alarm.”

 Tucker Carlson of Fox, 3-19-20

“I’m not aware of it. I find them all to be very honorable people, and they said they did nothing wrong.”

Trump, 3-20-20

There is a major break between Trump and Fox pertaining to politician insider trading in regard to COVID-19. We still don’t know when or if the Trump bunch (family and friends) sold stock in anticipation of the COVID-19 pandemic. My bet is they dumped their stock in February when the President was telling us COVID-19 was just a minor inconvenience. If we are fortunate, eventually the truth may come out despite efforts to keep it secret.

But in the meantime, due to excellent reporting from a variety of sources (including NPR, the Daily Beast, the National Review, the Center for Responsive Politics and Fox), we do know about others from both parties making questionable trades. 

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)

But Senator Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, gets the Grand Prize for deceitfulness. In a series of 29 transactions, Burr sold $600,000 to $1.6 million worth of stock on February 13, 2020. In a tweet, he said he did it because he followed the Asian markets. However, his Committee was getting daily confidential virus briefings from the intelligence community. By selling his stock, Burr avoided the 30% drop in the stock market. 

Stranger yet, Burr was also concerned enough that, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR, on 2-27-20 he warned VIPs in the exclusive Tar Heel Circle club about the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated it would be “more akin to the 1918 (Spanish Flu) pandemic” and that they should refrain from travel.

All the while, Burr was telling the public that they had little cause for concern. I guess it pays to be his country club buddy versus his constituent.

In 2012, Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act and Obama signed it into law. Although Burr voted against it, there was a reason for this law being passed. Politicians in both parties were using their insider knowledge to personally profit from corporate stock transactions. Sometimes, these stock sales were in industries that they were directly regulating via law making. 

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA)

Regardless of the law, questionable trading obviously continues today and it’s not only Burr. For example, Georgia’s Senator Kelly Loeffler, worth $500 million, is married to the head of the NY Stock Exchange (Jeffrey Sprecher). 

On 1-24-20, prior to the Coronavirus hitting the USA, she was in the confidential Senate Committee briefing on Covid-19. She tweeted about the meeting: “Appreciate today’s briefing from the President’s top health officials on the novel coronavirus outbreak.” 

Kelly, I’m absolutely certain that your stock portfolio appreciated it as well. Because, in a series of 29 transactions through mid-February, you sold stocks to buy stock in firms that could profit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Per Vox, these sales included dumping $18.7 million in Intercontinental Exchange stock, avoiding a 16% loss in stock value. By the way, we all know that your husband (Jeff Sprecher) Chairs that company. Do you really expect us to believe that you were “informed of these…sales…three weeks after”?

But, that’s not all that clearly partisan Loeffler has said. On 2-28 she tweeted:“Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on #Coronavirus readiness.” And on March 10: “Remember this: The consumer is strong, the economy is strong, & jobs are growing, which puts us in the best economic position to tackle #COVID19.” Talk about hypocrisy.

Although details are not yet as clear, wealthy Senator Perdue of Georgia is also guilty of putting his self-interest before his constituents. The National Review indicated that somewhere around $1 million in stock was traded (sold/bought) in 100 transactions in January and February. Stocks Perdue sold included Delta and Disney, in industries hit hard by COVID-19. Simultaneously, Perdue was sending constituent messages indicating everything was under control.

Senators Inhofe, Feinstein and Johnson also sold stocks in the days leading up to the pandemic, although full details are unclear. Of course, they also denied doing anything wrong.

DOJ is investigating. Given the partisan nature of our current DOJ, we can’t expect much from them.

However, Burr, Loeffler and Perdue should immediately resign and not wait for the DOJ report. It’s clear what they did. Further, during this time of national crisis, American voters of all political persuasions should pledge to only vote for politicians who put the health and welfare of America’s citizens before their own.

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Image Credit: Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) (both via Wikipedia.org/Public Domain).

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.