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Republican Senators Who Dumped Stock After Confidential Briefings about Coronavirus Must Resign

Several Republican Senators sold large quantities of stock after receiving confidential briefings about the potential impact of the coronavirus. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina and Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, whose husband is Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, both sold their stock just after those briefings and before the market collapsed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington Post: "Burr’s sales were among those of several senators to come to light late Thursday, raising questions about whether they were influenced by private briefings on the outbreak that in subsequent weeks caused U.S. equity markets to plunge." ...
... "The sales included stocks in some of the industries that have been hardest hit by the global pandemic, including hotels and restaurants, shipping, drug manufacturing, and health care, records show."
Common Dreams: "The Daily Beast reported late Thursday that Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), the newest member of the Senate, sold off millions of dollars worth of stock holdings following a private Jan. 24 Senate Health Committee meeting on the coronavirus threat."
"Loeffler, according to The Daily Beast, "reported the first sale of stock jointly owned by her and her husband on Jan. 24, the very day that her committee, the Senate Health Committee, hosted a private, all-senators briefing from administration officials, including the CDC director and Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on the coronavirus."

And, in Loeffler's case, there are also questions about a stock purchase she made after the government briefings.

Common Dreams: "One of Loeffler's two purchases," The Daily Beast noted, "was stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software and which has seen a small bump in its stock price since Loeffler bought in as a result of coronavirus-induced market turmoil."

There is a growing sense of outrage over the stock sales, as Americans realize that the Senators used their access to inside information to protect their wealth while minimizing the potential threat in their public statements.

Common Dreams: "Much like Burr, Loeffler publicly voiced optimism about the strength of the economy and the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis even as she unloaded stock holdings."

Both Loeffler and Burr claim that it's an innocent coincidence and that others make their investment decisions, but such explanations are unlikely to quell calls for their resignations. It's much more likely that the scandal will grow and may eventually lead to a criminal investigation.

Washington Post: "Federal officials are barred by federal law from using the nonpublic information they learn in their positions for their private financial gain." "Insider trading prohibitions apply to all members of Congress, congressional staff and other federal officials, under the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act of 2012. Burr was among three senators who voted against the legislation at the time."

Perhaps the worst fallout from the scandal will be the negative impact it will have on the confidence Americans have in their public officials at a time when that is so important.

#news #coronavirus #opinion

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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