The coronavirus epidemic has sent the markets into a tailspin and erased all the stock market gains made since the beginning of the Trump presidency. While the few Americans who actually own stocks (10% of Americans own 84% of the stocks) have suddenly found their portfolios in dire straits, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) is doing just fine.
That’s because he sold off up to $1.6 million worth of stocks on February 13th in 29 separate transactions — just one week before the market started crashing.
SCOOP: NC's GOP Senator Richard Burr told the public he was confident the govt can fight off COVID-19 the same time he & his wife sold up to ~$1.5 million stock in major corporations that ended up losing most of their value during the coronavirus pandemic https://t.co/JsXkaxb2Pw pic.twitter.com/lMnnbBfoNZ
— Anna Massoglia (@annalecta) March 19, 2020
Conveniently enough, Burr was getting daily briefings on the spread of the disease that the rest of the public wasn’t, meaning that he knew the kinds of measures we were going to need to take to stop the spread — and how that would affect his holdings in the industries that would be hit hardest by quarantines.
ProPublica reports that “his biggest sales included companies that are among the most vulnerable to an economic slowdown. He dumped up to $150,000 worth of shares of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, a chain based in the United States that has lost two-thirds of its value. And he sold up to $100,000 of shares of Extended Stay America, an economy hospitality chain. Shares of that company are now worth less than half of what they did at the time Burr sold.”
While he lied to the public and promised us that “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus,” a leaked audiotape has emerged showing that he told the rich members of a VIP social club that “it is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic,” likely so they too could cash out before the going got rough.
While he did disclose the sales under 2012 “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge” Act (which he voted against with just two other Senators), it is clear that this represents an outrageous abuse of Senate intelligence for his own personal greed and a stunning glimpse into how the United States Senate enriches itself off of the information they recieve in order to better serve the public.
Calls for his resignation immediately began flooding social media.
As Intel chairman, @SenatorBurr got private briefings about Coronavirus weeks ago.
Burr knew how bad it would be. He told the truth to his wealthy donors, while assuring the public that we were fine.
THEN he sold off $1.6 million in stock before the fall.
He needs to resign. https://t.co/IAITMbJ3R5
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 19, 2020
As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I know that our committee receives sensitive information, including assessments and projections, before others in Congress and the general public (if ever).
Senator Burr should suspend his chairmanship pending investigation. https://t.co/YayojgMc2V
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) March 19, 2020
Senator Burr should resign in disgrace for putting his financial interests above the interests of American citizens during a global pandemic.
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) March 19, 2020
If you too want to leave a message calling for Senator Burr's resignation, his DC office phone number is (202) 224-3154. It'd be helpful for our democracy if that kind of absolutely wanton corruption wasn't the sort of thing that blows over.
— Parker Higgins (@xor) March 19, 2020
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This is a staff report from former Occupy Democrats Editor in Chief Colin Taylor or contributor Rob Haffney.