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Saturday
March 28th, 2020
L&T Opinions Page

dick morrisGUEST COLUMN, Dick Morris

 

Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein of California each cashed in on the national disaster of the coronavirus by selling massive amounts of stock as the crisis unfolded.

Right before they sold their stock, Sens. Burr and Loeffler received briefings on the spread of the virus.

Anyone who owns stock is entitled to sell it as they wish.

But to sell it right as they were accessing detailed briefings by the government raises serious questions of insider trading.

Burr got daily briefings on the spreading contagion and used the information to dump up to $1.7 million of stock on Feb. 13, a few weeks before markets really began to tank.

He says he relied only on public information in making his decision and that the briefings had nothing to do with it.

Burr must be uniquely able to categorize his mind to keep his left hand ignorant of the conflicts of interest his right one is encountering.

He happened to share his misgivings about the market with an exclusive group of supporters and contributors with whom he met shortly after the briefing.

Loeffler, just appointed to the Senate and up for election in November, sold up to $3.1 million of stock the very same day she attended a private coronavirus meeting on Jan. 24.

Beyond the question of insider trading looms that of a lack of patriotism.

If we all dumped our stock portfolios or cleaned out our 401(k)s as a national crisis loomed, we would make things incredibly worse.

We should be able to count on our senators to put the national interest first and resist the desire to make a quick killing on the market.

Sen. Diane Feinstein sold up to $6 million of stock in Allogene Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering cancer treatments.

She claims her husband sold the stock, but Feinstein has a history of hiding behind her wealthy husband when conflict-of-interest allegations surface.

Whether these senators should be investigated is for the Securities and Exchange Commission to determine.

But we can say now that they should be ashamed of themselves.

And kudos to ProPublica for exposing this nonsense.

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