Senate

Burr requests ethics investigation into stock sale, denies wrongdoing

Bonnie Cash

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is requesting that the Senate Ethics Committee launch an investigation into his stock trading history after reports that he sold off millions in personal stocks the week before the stock market began its steep dive amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement posted to his Twitter account Thursday, Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, denied using classified information to reach his decision to offload his stocks before the market plummeted. 

“I relied solely on public news reports to guide my decision regarding the sale of stocks on February 13,” Burr said in a statement. “Understanding the assumption many could make in hindsight however, I spoke this morning with the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and asked him to open a complete review of the matter with full transparency.”

Shortly after Burr released his statement, the hashtag “#Burrisma” began to trend on Twitter.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The six members of the panel have yet to comment publicly on Burr’s call for an investigation.

According to financial disclosures, Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) also sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in stocks within days of the Senate holding a briefing on Jan. 24 with administration officials on the coronavirus outbreak.

Inhofe and Feinstein later said that they were not present at the briefing. Loeffler defended her actions, saying that her investment decisions are made by third-party advisers.

After the reports first circulated Thursday afternoon about Burr’s stock transaction activity, several Democratic lawmakers called for an investigation into him — and even for his resignation.

“As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I know that our committee receives sensitive information, including assessments and projections, before others in Congress and the general public (if ever),” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted. “Senator Burr should suspend his chairmanship pending investigation.”

Progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), meanwhile, said Friday that members of Congress should not be allowed to purchase individual stock.

On Thursday evening, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson also said Burr should resign if he can’t explain his actions.

“Maybe there’s an honest explanation for what he did; if there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately,” Carlson said on Fox News. “Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”

—Updated at 11:42 a.m.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Coronavirus Dianne Feinstein Insider trading James Inhofe James Lankford Joaquin Castro Kelly Loeffler Richard Burr Senate Ethics Committee Senate Intelligence Committee Stock trading Tucker Carlson

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