Sens. Richard Burr & Kelly Loeffler Sold Millions In Stock After Briefing On Coronavirus, Accused On Insider Trading
Two Republican senators are raising eyebrows after they sold millions of dollars in stock just before the market crashed.
Burr and his wife sold nearly $1.7 million in stocks in mid-February, about two weeks prior to the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman holding a private briefing in which he warned of the potentially massive social and economic impact the coronavirus would have.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Burr sold between 25% to 75% of his entire portfolio.
Burr claimed the decision to sell was based on his own conclusions from news reports.
“I relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks on February 13,” Burr tweeted Friday. “Specifically, I closely followed CNBC’s daily health and science reporting out of its Asia bureaus at the time.”
He continued, “Understanding the assumption many could make in hindsight however, I spoke this morning with the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and asked him to open a complete review of the matter with full transparency.”
My statement in response to reports about recent financial disclosures: pic.twitter.com/J4kye5a4ok
— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) March 20, 2020
Loeffler has not commented about whether she will request the Senate Ethics Committee to launch an investigation into her stock sales, but said on CNBC’s The Exchange that she is “happy to answer any and all questions and would submit to whatever review is needed.”
Between Jan. 24 until mid-February, Loeffler and her husband made 27 different sales. The first sale occurred the same day Loeffler attended a senate briefing regarding coronavirus.
Loeffler deflected blame, citing “multiple third-party advisors” who make investment decisions for her.
“I want to set the record straight: This is a ridiculous & baseless attack,” she tweeted Thursday night. “I don’t make investment decisions for my portfolio. Investment decisions are made by multiple third-party advisors without my or my husband’s knowledge or involvement.”
I want to set the record straight: This is a ridiculous & baseless attack. I don’t make investment decisions for my portfolio. Investment decisions are made by multiple third-party advisors without my or my husband’s knowledge or involvement.
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) March 20, 2020
Loeffler also made two stock purchases while her other investments were being sold. One of the two purchases was stock in Citrix, a tech company with teleworking software. Since the pandemic, it has been one of the few stocks that have risen in value.
While there is no clear evidence of insider trading, former United States Secretary of Labor and UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich noted how suspicious Loeffler’s transactions were.
“Think about this: Weeks before you had any inkling you were going to lose your job, Senator Kelly Loeffler was selling off millions of stocks — and *buying* stock in a teleworking company,” he wrote.
Think about this:
Weeks before you had any inkling you were going to lose your job, Senator Kelly Loeffler was selling off millions of stocks — and *buying* stock in a teleworking company.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 20, 2020
Sen. Dianne Feinstein‘s (D-California) husband sold between $1.5 million and $6 million in stock of Allogene Therapeutics during the same period.
Tom Mentzer, a spokesman for Feinstein told CNN that her husband makes financial decisions on his own.
“All of Senator Feinstein’s assets are in a blind trust, as they have been since she came to the Senate,” Mentzer said.