Politics - News Analysis
Now Four (!) GOP Senators Busted For Dumping Stock After Classified Virus Meeting: Calls For Resignation
At the time I first wrote this column two Republican senators had been caught. Now an hour later the number is four – all Republican. In addition to the two discussed below, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) have been caught for trading on classified information. The newest article states there are calls for all four to resign. I doubt the number will stay at four, and I suspect the rest will be Republicans because I also suspect they believe Trump will protect them, whereas Dems would be terrified. Everything below applies equally to the two additional Senators, only the individual amounts differ.
Republican Senators Richard Burr (NC) and Kelly Loeffler (GA) have been busted for behavior that mirrors insider trading, selling massive amounts of stock immediately after a confidential senate briefing about the Coronavirus and just before public information led to the stock market crash. The sell order saved each senator about 30% of their investment in just a couple weeks. They sold near the record highs and avoided the crash. Serious stuff.
We are not talking about just a small amount in fear of a couple of companies being hit, Senator Kelly Loeffler (who is the newest member of the senate) sold over seven figures of stock over the few weeks and days before the stock market crash after the all-senate confidential briefing on the impact of the virus on the country, including economic consequences.
“Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) reported the first sale of stock jointly owned by her and her husband on January 24, the very day that her committee, the Senate Health Committee, hosted a private, all-Senators briefing from administration officials, including the CDC Director and Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Health of the United States, on the coronavirus,”
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That is shameful. We are not talking about a few thousand dollars, either.
Over 20 days starting on January 24th, Loeffler and her husband sold between $1.27 million and $3.1 million (I have no idea why there is confusion as to the amount sold, but there must be some difficulty in ascertaining the precise amount). The stocks lost one-third of their value in the time after the sales, mirroring the market as a whole.
Loeffler reported the sales, as would be required, but that doesn’t absolve her from trading directly upon what is inside information.
I cannot for the life of me figure out why everyone serving in the senate, congress, every federal judge, and everyone in the White House (at a minimum) is not legally required to put any equities in a blind trust, managed by a fiduciary whose job it is to oversee the invested money with the professionalism one would expect from an expert or experienced investment analyst.
As lawyers, we must follow the bar rule in which we must avoid conflicts or even the appearance of a conflict. Everyone at that level of government who trades their stock while also attending closed meetings on the state of the United States – whether it is pharmaceutical progress, interest rates, regulations, whatever – can sell or buy the stock based upon what he or she hears.
I don’t know their fate, and The Daily Beast did not report on the possible consequences. Normally the SEC isn’t happy about insider trading (which this essentially is) and can arrest people and put them on ice for a long time. In less severe cases, one can be significantly fined.
But these are not normal times. Trump may want to own two more senators with undeniable totality or set a precedent that allows others, or him, to openly trade on classified information. Normally Trump would be taking a serious risk in involving himself in an SEC (or FBI) investigation. Normally presidents are worried they can be in serious trouble (possible impeachment/censure) for interfering with an SEC/FBI investigation, especially concerning politically targeted people. This president has no reason to worry as he’s seen the Republicans in the senate will protect anything. This president can even ignore subpoenas asking questions. Republicans have damn good reason to think they can do this with no consequences at all, totally protected by Trump, maybe a small fine.
I would be equally angry if a Democrat brazenly traded on inside information. However, especially nowadays, a Democrat wouldn’t dare do it because he or she knows Trump would assure that all hell came down upon him or her. The Democrats would think that they could lose absolutely everything and be in jail one LONG time.
These are not normal times. This is a dictatorship road, exactly how it works in a dictatorship – the ruling party gets to do whatever, the opposition, nothing. We’re much further along dictator road than we normally think. I doubt it’s a coincidence it’s all Republicans, and I don’t think these will be the last four. A Democrat may have succumbed to greed, but it’s almost impossible there will be anywhere near the number of Republicans.
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