Friday, March 20, 2020

A Coincidence? Insider Information?

Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican, is the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman. In February he was  expressing confidence over the imminent threat of COVID19, reassuring the public and the market about the U.S. government's ability to contain the virus.

Burr and his wife Brooke sold between $581,000 and $1.5 million in publicly traded stocks in major corporations, including several hotel companies on Feb. 13 and didn’t buy any new shares. Between the Burrs’ two accounts, they sold up to $150,000 worth of stock in Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, which lost almost two-thirds of its market value since Feb. 13. They sold up to $150,000 in Extended Stay America, another hotel company that lost half its value over the last month. Burr also sold between $15,001 and $50,000 of stock in Park Hotels & Resorts, which saw its stock price drop from nearly $24 to under $5. 

In late February, Burr privately warned his political  donors at a luncheon on Feb. 27 that the coronavirus would likely spread through the population aggressively—and suggested it could kill hundreds of thousands of people.that the virus is "much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history," according to a recording obtained by NPR. 

"It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history," Burr said. "It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic," he added, referring to the flu pandemic which killed more than 600,000 Americans. 

The luncheon Burr spoke at was organized by the Tar Heel Circle, a business organization in North Carolina with membership fees ranging from $500 to $10,000. The donors he was addressing, according to NPR, contributed a total of $100,000 to his 2016 campaign.

In his remarks, the senator also warned the donors that the outbreak—officially designated a pandemic about two weeks after Burr spoke—could force schools in North Carolina and across the U.S. to close for weeks at a time and advised them to reconsider business travel.
"You may have to look at your employees and judge whether the trip they're making to Europe is essential or whether it can be done on video conference," said Burr. "Why risk it?"
The warning came 13 days before the State Department issued travel restrictions for countries hard-hit by the coronavirus. 

Just two days earlier, Trump was telling the press that the U.S. was "very close" to finding a vaccine for COVID-19.

Burr did not share his warning to his donors with his constituents nor with the American people. About a week after the luncheon, on March 5, Burr still struck a reassuring tone in a public statement about the virus, telling constituents, "We have a framework in place that has put us in a better position than any other country to respond to a public health threat, like the coronavirus."


ajohnstone said...

Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, whose husband is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) the newest member of the Senate, sold off stocks worth seven figures, starting on the day she and other senators received a private briefing about the coronavirus from administration officials and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the NYSE, made 29 transactions up to mid-February, all but two of which were sales. “One of Loeffler’s two purchases was stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software and which has seen a small bump in its stock price since Loeffler bought in as a result of coronavirus-induced market turmoil,” the site reported.

ajohnstone said...

"It looks like Jim Inhofe also sold stock after receiving the briefing about the seriousness of coronavirus," said commentator Erick Fernandez. "An endless, bottomless pit of corruption."