Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) brother-in-law sold upwards of $280,000 in stock on the same day the GOP lawmaker dumped investments worth upwards of $1.72 million in companies that would be impacted heavily by the novel Coronavirus outbreak.
Gerald Fauth, who apart from being Burr’s brother-in-law is also a political appointee on the National Mediation Board, ditched between $97,000 and $280,000 in six companies, according to ProPublica. The stock selloff, which averted Fauth a loss of somewhere between $37,000 and $118,000, came as Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was privy to confidential information about the pandemic.
Fauth’s stock dump came on February 13, the same day Burr, himself, sold off thousands of dollars worth of stock in hospitality companies, like Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Hilton. Those transactions, numbering 33 in total, netted him between $628,000 and $1.72 million.
The timely decision to sell occurred as Burr’s committee was receiving near-daily briefings on the Coronavirus outbreak. As such, soon after the stock sale become public, speculation stirred that Burr had acted on inside information to protect his assets. If true, the senator could potentially be found in violation of the STOCK Act, which prohibits the use of non-public information for private profit by lawmakers.
Burr, who has called for a review of his conduct by the Senate Ethics Committee, is strenuously denying he broke the law. Last month, the senator’s lawyer told CNN he “welcomes a thorough review of the facts in this matter, which will establish that his actions were appropriate.”
Since that time both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have begun investigating the stock sales. Although, there is no indication of the progress of that probe, Burr’s political standing has already taken a blow. Not only has the senator drawn criticism from both sides of the political aisle, with Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson and progressive firebrand Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) equally cutting in their rebukes, but Burr has also stirred the ire of constituents. A poll released last month indicates a majority of North Carolina voters believe he should resign over his actions.