Mar 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Senate Intel chair sold up to $1.6 million in stock before market crash

Burr
Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images.

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) dumped between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his stocks on Feb. 13, days after writing a Fox News op-ed that said the U.S. is "better prepared than ever before" to face public health threats like the coronavirus, according to ProPublica.

Why it matters: Reuters reported on Feb. 27 that as chairman of the secretive committee, Burr had been receiving daily updates from the intelligence community about the outbreak.

  • NPR reported earlier Thursday that Burr struck a much darker tone on Feb. 27, telling a private luncheon of constituents that the coronavirus 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 added.
  • The stock market has dropped about 30% since Burr's sales.

Between the lines: Burr's sell-offs — which were executed between his op-ed and later warnings — included stocks in several companies that were set to be hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, according to ProPublica.

  • Up to $150,000 of his sold stocks were shares of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Up to $100,000 were shares of the hospitality chain Extended Stay America.
  • Tourism has been one of the hardest hit industries as travel has come to a virtual standstill as a result of the pandemic.

Worth noting: In 2012, Burr was one of only three senators to oppose a bill that would explicitly bar members of Congress and their staff from using non-public information for personal benefit, including stock-trading.

What they're saying:

“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. 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.”
— A spokesperson told ProPublica

Burr's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Axios.

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