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Tennessee lawmaker bought stocks in Zoom, sold cruise line shares before market plunge

Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) sold stocks in cruise lines and bought in companies producing vaccines and other services before the market plunged in March due to the pandemic, according to a new report.

The Tennessean reported Tuesday that it’s unclear if Roe, the ranking member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was privy to information about the pandemic’s potential effect on the economy before it became public.

The newspaper, citing financial records it had obtained, reported that Roe exchanged 300 assets valued at between $4 million and $18.4 million.

Roe bought stock in video conferencing service Zoom as well as Moderna, one of the biotechnology companies working on a coronavirus vaccine, right before he sold stocks in Royal Caribbean Cruise and Disney.

Some cruise lines experienced outbreaks of the coronavirus. Roe was one of the lawmakers calling on the U.S. to repatriate Americans stranded on cruises.

The Tennessean reported that one of Roe’s first purchases in Zoom stock occurred on Jan. 31, the day after U.S. health officials held a closed-door meeting with members of Congress to discuss the spread of COVID-19. Roe reportedly purchased stock in Moderna the week after.

A spokesman for Roe told The Hill that the congressman does not control his own stock trading, a claim other lawmakers accused of inappropriate stock trading have made in recent weeks.

“Congressman Roe does not manage his personal stock investments and uses a third party investment manager to handle personal stock purchases and sales,” the spokesman said in a statement. 

The congressman, who is one of 17 physicians in Congress and co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, announced in January that he is retiring from Congress.

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