During natural and manmade disasters through human history, there’s a certain segment of society that views these tragic circumstances as opportunities to profit. In the current coronavirus pandemic crisis, we’ve seen the pharmaceutical industry gearing up to reap large profits from the sale of drugs to treat the disease and eventually sales of the vaccine being developed to prevent it.
So it was no surprise that several U.S. senators sold millions of dollars’ worth of stock just before the coronavirus-induced market crash. According to widespread reports, Sens. Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina and Kelly Loeffler, Republican of Georgia, sold off large amounts of stock from their personal portfolios after receiving classified briefings from government officials about the seriousness of the coronavirus threat to the U.S. economy in January and February. Other stock trades that have come under scrutiny include Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and David Purdue of Georgia, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California. Two dozen members of the House also engaged in aggressive stock sales in early February after various briefings.
The STOCK Act, signed into law in 2012, was designed to prevent members of congress from profiting off of non-publicly disclosed information. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government affairs lobbyist on ethics. Here, he examines the allegations against the two Republican senators and the call for immediate investigations and prosecution as warranted.
For more information on Public Citizen, visit citizen.org.