Three Republican senators and one Democratic senator are being investigated by the U.S. Justice Dept. after the nonpartisan Common Cause filed a complaint.
Common Cause, a grassroots watchdog, alleges that Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia), Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California), have violated the STOCK Act. Reports have it that the four (4) U.S. senators had unloaded their shares of stocks upon receiving classified briefings; allowing them to avoid investment losses during the stock market downturn.
According to the Justice Department, investigations will look closely into the point in time when the senators unloaded substantial amounts of shares of stock (e.g. Burr’s 33 stock transactions in Feb. 13, 2020); and other related information (emails or phone calls to wealth managers and/or stock brokers), to determine if the senators, had indeed committed “insider trading” and violated the STOCK Act of 2012.
What is the STOCK Act 2012
The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act or STOCK Act is a law that was passed in 2012, to prohibit stock trading among members of Congress, congressional staffers, and other government employees including members of the executive and judiciary branches. The prohibition applies to those who in relation to their government position or job receive classified information or information that has not been made available to the general public.
Senators Dumped Shares While President Trump was Still Downplaying the Coronavirus Outbreak as a Hoax
The senators in question argued that decisions to sell were made by their wealth managers based on public information on how the coronavirus outbreak appeared to be trending. Yet what made their respective wealth manager’s selling activities questionable is that they occurred right after the senators attended a classified briefing, which warned of how the outbreak has likely potential to wrought a catastrophic impact similar to the 1918 Spanish flu.
Considering also that at the time the lawmakers unloaded their investment portfolio, the public was still being convinced by U.S. president Trump that the outbreak was not as serious as what the CDC had warned. During campaign rallies, Trump asserted that the coronavirus was a hoax cooked up by Democrats. Later Trump tried to convince the public that the government had everything under control, and that a vaccine was already underway.
The four senators were able to avoid losses since they unloaded stock investments before their prices went down, as a result of the massive sell offs that transpired thereafter.
Senator Burr Also Warned Associates and Political Donors
Senator Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee and at the same a time a member of the Senate Health Committee, has more explaining to do.
The National Public Radio (NPR) came out with a secret voice recording, showing the North Carolina Senator giving out the same warnings to his wealthy associates and political donors in February 27, 2020.
The NPR, which is a Washington-based, non-profit membership media organization that receives both public and private funding, was the first to break the news about Senator Burr’s stock market trading activities.