#ncpol: Did Richard Burr get RICHer thanks to inside info on the coronavirus?



Some are out there making the case:


Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 33 separate transactions.


As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time, according to a Reuters story.


A week after Burr’s sales, the stock market began a sharp decline and has lost about 30% since.


On Thursday, Burr came under fire after NPR obtained a secret recording from Feb. 27, in which the lawmaker gave a VIP group at an exclusive social club a much more dire preview of the economic impact of the coronavirus than what he had told the public.


“Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak,” his spokesperson said. “As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy.”


Burr is not a particularly wealthy member of the Senate: Roll Call estimated his net worth at $1.7 million in 2018, indicating that the February sales significantly shaped his financial fortunes and spared him from some of the pain that many Americans are now facing.[…]


This type of thing — Members of Congress personally profiting from info they learn as part of their oversight roles — is detailed beautifully in Peter Schweitzer’s book  “Throw Them All Out.”


[…] He was one of the authors of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which shapes the nation’s response to public health threats like the coronavirus. Burr’s office did not respond to requests for comment about what sort of briefing materials, if any, on the coronavirus threat Burr may have seen as chair of the intelligence committee before his selling spree.


According to the NPR report, Burr told attendees of the luncheon held at the Capitol Hill Club: “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history … It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”


He warned that companies might have to curtail their employees’ travel, that schools could close and that the military might be mobilized to compensate for overwhelmed hospitals.


The luncheon was organized by the Tar Heel Circle, a club for businesses and organizations in North Carolina that are charged up to $10,000 for membership and are promised “interaction with top leaders and staff from Congress, the administration, and the private sector.”


Burr’s public comments had been considerably less dire. In a Feb. 7 op-ed that he co-authored with another senator, he assured the public that “the United States today is better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus.” He wrote, “No matter the outbreak or threat, Congress and the federal government have been vigilant in identifying gaps in its readiness efforts and improving its response capabilities.”


Members of Congress are required by law to disclose their securities transactions.


Burr was one of just three senators who in 2012 opposed the bill that explicitly barred lawmakers and their staff from using nonpublic information for trades and required regular disclosure of those trades. In opposing the bill, Burr argued at the time that insider trading laws already applied to members of Congress. President Barack Obama signed the bill, known as the STOCK Act, that year.


Stock transactions of lawmakers are reported in ranges. Burr’s Feb. 13 selling spree was his largest stock selling day of at least the past 14 months, according to a ProPublica review of Senate records. Unlike his typical disclosure reports, which are a mix of sales and purchases, all of the transactions were sales.


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.[…]

10 thoughts on “#ncpol: Did Richard Burr get RICHer thanks to inside info on the coronavirus?

  1. So when I call his office and I want to speak directly to him, I should just say I’m a member of the Tarheel Circle? This explains a lot of what’s wrong in DC.

  2. It’s been apparent for a long, long time that Burr cares only for Burr with the notable exception of his personal reputation, and for that reason, it’s astounding how many unthinking people voted for this poseur in the 2016 primary. Same with Tillis although unlike Burr, he may not survive the general election. It’s interesting to note that about 22% of GOP primary voters refused to support Tillis. Why is that remarkable? Because a guy named McCrory actually had just UNDER 20% of Primary voters refuse to support him and statistical evidence shows that those voters didn’t come around in the 2016 general election either. Maybe Trump’s endorsement will make the difference but if I were Team RNC, I’d be worried about this seat.

  3. As one of his original supporters, I have watched Burr’s career as a Senator get further and further away from conservatism. He is as a picture of the ultimate RINO. I moved from NC in 2015 but have continued to follow the Senators and Congressional representatives from there, as they are who I voted for and have name recognition to me. Most are big disappointments…RINO s without a doubt. The few who remained conservative have been great, Primarily Meadows) but generally the Senators for sure and most of the Representatives are on cahoots with the Democrats..
    Burr, as chairman of the Intelligence committee revised to allow a vote on Trump’s involvement in Russia-gate until the very end of the Congressional session. Burr said he was waiting for all of the evidence to come in to get a vote on Trump’s innocence or guilt. He has been a “Burr in Trumps side” since before Trump’s election.
    This situation is a direct result of the failure of the NCGOP to select good conservative folks to run for office in NC. Please cull the NacGOP and get people on there who support conservatism.

  4. Our great state deserves so much better than Burr and Tillis, Any of the folks who jumped in the primary would have gotten Republican votes, if they could have beaten Tillis, a difficult thing to do with an incumbent. They tell me you have to vote for Tillis or we’ll lose the Senate. We might lose it anyway because he’s so despicable, as is Burr, who we all know never shows up anywhere, except at election time. I’m so disgusted with them both!

  5. When both Tillis and Burr refused to stand up against S.C. Senator Tim Scott who was smearing Tom Farr, it showed us the kind of men they really are. Tillis will never get my vote and Burr can’t leave the Senate soon enough. North Carolina has proven to be nothing but a RINO disaster.

  6. I am beside myself with those who say they vote for Burr (or Tillis) because any Republican is better than a Dem. That may be true in the short term, but long term this is a recipe for disaster.

    If I had an employee who I knew was stealing from me, would I use that kind of thinking to retain that employee? I think not. However, thousands of voters re-elect scumbags. Until voters have the courage to fire those employees (or elected representatives) then nothing will ever change.

    Sadly I believe nothing will ever change because the teams have become more important that principles. It appears that it will all have to crash and burn before anything will change. The current system is corrupted beyond repair.

  7. Sadly, this is the kind of behavior I have come to expect from just about every politician. None of them truly care about the consituents or what is really good from the nation. It’s all about greed, dishonesty, lies and what benefits them personally.

    1. Burr went from selling lawn mowers to a $2M net worth in Senate. Anyone want to take $175k annually and make $2M? Tell me how that is done and live comfortably and pay personal expense?

  8. Peter Schweizer stated this morning in an interview, Burr was among least wealthy Senators. Approx $2M net worth but sold up to $1.6-$1.7M in stocks. Almost his ENTIRE NW? Seems strange. And he sold INDIVIDUALLY not via a broker?!! HE NEEDS TO GO! I couldn’t clear this hurdle and neither could anyone that used insider info. Sure there are others that have been employed in a sector where passing along insider info to family, friends, biz associates or using personally was punishable by termination and punishment by law. Signed such disclosures annually. So why does Burr skate? Martha Stewart didn’t.

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