“He (Burr) had inside information about what could happen to our country, which is now happening, but he didn’t warn the public. He didn’t give a primetime address. He didn’t go on television to sound the alarm.”- Tucker Carlson of Fox, 3-19-20
“I’m not aware of it. I find them all to be very honorable people, and they said they did nothing wrong.”-Trump, 3-20-20
There is a major break between Trump and Fox pertaining to politician insider trading in regard to COVID-19. We still don’t know when or if the Trump bunch (family and friends) sold stock in anticipation of the COVID-19 pandemic. My bet is they dumped their stock in February when the President was telling us COVID-19 was just a minor inconvenience. If we are fortunate, eventually the truth may come out despite efforts to keep it secret.
But in the meantime, due to excellent reporting from a variety of sources (including NPR, the Daily Beast, the National Review, the Center for Responsive Politics and Fox), we do know about others from both parties making questionable trades. And, our two esteemed, very wealthy Georgia Senators are among them.
Georgia’s own Senator Kelly Loeffler, worth $500 million, is married to the head of the NY Stock Exchange (Jeffrey Sprecher). On 1-24-20, prior to the Coronavirus hitting the USA, she was in a confidential Senate Committee briefing on Covid-19. She tweeted about the meeting: “Appreciate today’s briefing from the President’s top health officials on the novel coronavirus outbreak.”
Kelly, I’m absolutely certain that your stock portfolio appreciated it as well. Because, in a series of 29 transactions through mid-February, you sold between $1.3 and $3.1 in stocks to buy stock in firms that could profit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, that’s not all partisan Loeffler tweeted. On 2-28: “Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on #Coronavirus readiness.” And on March 10: “Remember this: The consumer is strong, the economy is strong, & jobs are growing, which puts us in the best economic position to tackle #COVID19.”
Although details are not yet as clear, Senator Perdue is also guilty of putting his self-interest before his constituents. The National Review indicated that somewhere around $1 million in stock was traded (sold/bought) in 100 transactions in January and February. Stocks Perdue sold included Delta and Disney, in industries hit hard by COVID-19. Simultaneously, Perdue was sending constituent messages indicating everything was under control.
Senators Inhofe, Feinstein and Johnson also sold stocks in the days leading up to the pandemic, although details are unclear. They also denied doing anything wrong.
But Senator Burr, Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, gets the Grand Prize for deceitfulness. In a series of 29 transactions, Burr sold $600,000 to $1.6 million worth of stock on February 13, 2020. In a tweet, he said he did it because he followed the Asian markets. However, his Committee was getting daily confidential virus briefings from the intelligence community. By selling his stock, Burr avoided the 30% drop in the stock market.
Stranger yet, Burr was also concerned enough that, according to a secret recording obtained by NPR, on 2-27-20 he warned VIPs in the exclusive Tar Heel Circle club about the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated it would be “more akin to the 1918 (Spanish Flu) pandemic” and that they should refrain from travel. All the while, telling the public that they had little cause for concern. I guess it pays to be his country club buddy versus his constituent.
In 2012, Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act and Obama signed it into law. Although Burr voted against it, there was a reason for this law being passed. Politicians in both parties were using their insider knowledge to personally profit from corporate stock transactions. Sometimes, these stock sales were in industries that they were directly regulating via law making.
Regardless of the law, questionable trading obviously continues today. American voters should pledge to only vote for politicians who put the health and welfare of America’s citizens before their own. In Georgia, that means voting against Loeffler and Perdue.
Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a national corporation, was the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia. He was Chair of the Jasper County Commission and Republican Party. He Chaired the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia's Tax Committee. He is currently the Fayette County Vice-Chair of the Board of Health.