A watchdog reports Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., dumped $1.7 million in stock as he was receiving intelligence briefings on the oncoming onslaught of the coronavirus, all while reassuring the public about U.S. readiness.
Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, received classified daily briefings on the outbreak that would become a World Health Organization pandemic. He also issued assurances the U.S. was right to fend off the coronavirus
But, ProPublica reported, Burr unloaded between $628,000 and $1.72 million of stock holding Feb. 13 in 33 transactions.
His timing of the transactions are noteworthy, because the sharp stock market declines began a week afterward and has lost about 30% of value.
A secret recording from a Feb. 27 VIP social club, obtained by NPR, caught Burr sounding alarms on the oncoming economy hit of the coronavirus pandemic – which was different than the reassurances he was given the public, according to the report.
“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” Burr told the gathering, per NPR. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”
“Sen. Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak,” his spokesperson said, per the report. “As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy.”
Burr has been estimated worth of around $1.7 million in 2018, per the report, so the stock sales are a significant portion of his total worth.
His selling was his largest in the past 14 months and, unlike other reports, only featured selling, no buying, ProPublica reported from a review of Senate records.
Among the sales, per the report, were up to $150,000 worth of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and up to $100,000 of shares of Extended Stay America shares, two hotel chains.
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