Is Justice Back? Congressional Insider Stock Trading
Posted On May 17, 2020
This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Why It Still Happens
On May 14, 2020, the FBI served Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) with a warrant. They then confiscated his cell phone and records. He is suspected of profiting from the Coronavirus by selling off stocks likely to go down in the pandemic. This info was given by Aides in March. Burr is Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They received briefings and intelligence reports in the previous two months that included non-public information about the growing Coronavirus issue. He has since “temporarily” stepped down, to avoid appearances of impropriety.
The trades seem to be in violation of the 2012 Stock Act, which in theory prevents insider trading by Congress. Why it took until 2012 to even pass this is a good indicator of what “business as usual” means in Washington. Not to be singled out, it has been said that Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) are also being looked into. Of course there have been “anonymous experts in insider trading” that have stated that Feinstein and Inhofe are innocent, as they use blind trusts or 3rd parties to make trades, convenient. They obviously know how to stay out of jail.
If since 2012 such trades have been illegal for them to make, why does it occur? It may have something to do with modifications made in 2013, weakening it. Burr claims he only used public information to trade stocks. Specifically he credits CNBCs daily health and science reporting from Asia in January/February. Why he was privately concerning himself with what at the time was not a major issue and halfway around the globe, is anyone’s guess.
Washington Needs Transparency
Are we to believe that 3 weeks after attending a meeting, he had his magical insight to trade stocks in case the Asian Wuhan reports became a worldwide issue? A meeting where infectious disease experts like Anthony Fauci and Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield were present. They apprised lawmakers of the latest reports about the outbreak in China’s Wuhan province (on January 24th) by the way. It doesn’t look good, I’m sure he has hired excellent attorneys with the profits though.
“How much information was provided to the [intelligence] committee by the intelligence community that was not in the public domain? That’s key, …”Jim Cox, Professor of Law at the Duke University School of Law
If that wasn’t enough, he also shared the information with wealthy donors, telling the public things are fine. It’s pretty sad when you are called to resign by Rep. Alexandria Cortez (D-NY) for ethics reasons. The others may be equally guilty, notably Sen. Feinstein is involved. She squirmed out of charges from having a Chinese agent as a driver for 20 years, I’m sure she’ll have no issue here. As for the others, including ones yet to be mentioned, it’s up to AG Bill Barr. He’s kind of busy lately, maybe he can assign someone to look into it.
In the ideal 21st century America, any weakening provisions to the Stock Act would be lifted. Maybe put all stock transactions of public officials on a website for reference as quickly as possible to when they occur. Everyone knows the details if they want them. The proof is there to point to if later it looks like insider trading. Some people would avoid careers in Government altogether. That may be a good thing.
Do Americans Expect Too Much?
It is not unreasonable to expect above-board behavior from elected officials. It has been a frustration for humanity since before records were kept (an enabling feature for historic crooked politicians and royalty then). Transparency and Term Limits would go far towards Making America (or anywhere else) Great Again. It’s up to you, the voters, to hold guilty politicians accountable and restrict their ability to abuse power or people.
Karl Donaldson is an editor and writer for NRN. Partial to his two cats, he lives in New Hampshire with his wife and a veritable menagerie of his wife's creatures.