At least two U.S. Senators are facing intense criticism — and accusations of potential insider trading — on reports that they sold stocks while allegedly having early access to information on the threats posed by the coronavirus.
On Thursday, several news outlets released a story that Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) had sold over $1 million in stock after a Coronavirus briefing. Burr is not the only one, now reports are that four Senators, across both parties, have made stock trades in similar fashion. We need to take a closer look at these cases.
Burr made 33 separate transactions after February 13th, According to reports, the Senate began receiving briefings in late January regarding coronavirus. Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had been reassuring people even as his stock sales began that the government was prepared for this crisis. As Burr received daily briefings on the virus, he was quietly making sales of stock. Many are calling for Burr’s resignation, but he has not responded other than to state that NPR has misrepresented his comments.
Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-G.A.) is also accused of interesting stock trades. According to reports, she also conducted stock trades starting on the same day as she received initial intelligence reports. The value of those trades was between $1 and $3 million, with two of the trades being purchases. Loeffler did respond to the reports. It is interesting to note that Loeffler is married to the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.
The New York Times also reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-C.A.) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-O.K.) also conducted questionable stock trading after briefings. Feinstein’s totals were between $1.5 and $6 million according to The NY Times story and Inhofe’s around $400,000. Feinstein’s investments were in a California research facility while Inhofe was investing in various businesses.
At a time when Americans need to be able to trust their government is operating in their best interests, these actions raise concerns. If the reports on Burr are true, he should resign. Burr previously voted against an insider trading ban on Congress. As the chair of the intelligence committee, he has access to information that the majority of Americans do not have. This is a significant moral issue.
In the least, a full investigation needs to be opened on these Senators. Most of them have denied the reports as poor journalism. I certainly agree that there are issues with the main stream media, but there are also issues with corruption in our government. If these individuals used their positions and knowledge to make these transactions, they need to resign and should be prosecuted.
Only 17% of Americans trust Congress. It doesn’t take much to understand why. While Americans are struggling amidst the COVID-19 crisis to make ends meet, Congress gives the appearance that they safeguarded themselves financially. Some of the most sound advice I ever received in my life was to abstain from the appearance of evil. It’s taught throughout ethics and moral classes in colleges as well as scripturally in religious institutions. Unfortunately, it appears that these values were not taught to those in Congress.