US Senator Dumps Stocks Before Market Plunge 

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee dumped a sizable portion of his stock portfolio in February before the upheaval of COVID-19 was felt in the U.S. stock markets.  According to reports from NPR and The Washington Post, Richard Burr, a Republican senator from North Carolina, also in February, warned members of The Tar Heel Club, an exclusive group of North Carolina businessmen, about the impending chaos the virus would wreak on the stock market.  At that time, Burr and U.S. President Donald Trump were publicly expressing confidence about U.S. stocks in the face of the coronavirus.  On the same day in February that the president said the coronavirus would one day disappear “like a miracle,” Burr told the businessmen the virus was “much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” according to a recording of the meeting obtained by NPR.  He told the gathering that the virus was “probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”  Burr also told the group that every company would have to alter its travel arrangements, that schools would close and there would be at least one military hospital.  Many of the shares that the senator sold were in businesses that were pummeled by the national emergency the virus caused, including health care, hotels and restaurants.It is illegal for members of Congress, congressional staff and federal officials to use inside information to their financial advantage.  The Center for Responsive Politics was the first to report Burr’s sale of 33 stocks that he and his wife owned. The stocks were reported to be worth between $628,033 and $1.72 million, according to Senate sources.  The Senator’s office said in a statement “Senator 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. 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.”