Richard Burr Voted Against Banning Insider Trading By Members Of Congress
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) received oustized attention earlier this year over his decision to sell off massive amounts of stock just before the markets crashed amid coronavirus concerns — along with his private warnings about the pandemic’s far-reaching effects while publicly reassuring that the government could handle it.
But equally concerning is Burr’s 2012 vote against the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (Stock) Act, The Washington Post noted in March.
The bill was meant to keep Congress, congressional staff and other federal officials from using insider knowledge gained on Capitol Hill to inform their investment decisions — the very situation Burr appears to find himself in now.
While the STOCK Act passed with a vote of 96 to 3 and was signed into law by President Barack Obama, Burr — who at the time called himself a “brave soul” for opposing it — described the bill as “insane.”
The North Carolina Republican “rejected the idea that specific legislation was needed for Congress, pointing to existing federal laws from the Securities and Exchange Commission to prevent insider trading,” The Post reported.
However, there is plenty of evidence that existing law was not keeping members of Congress in check, as the newspaper noted:
“In a 2004 paper published in the Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, researchers found that senators who made stock trades outperformed the market by an average margin of 12 percent. A 2010 Wall Street Journal investigation later found that congressional staffers had stock in companies benefiting from legislation that the staffers were supporting.”
Burr said in 2016 that he had opposed the STOCK Act because “North Carolinians did not send me to Washington to duplicate existing law, and that’s in fact what the Stock Act did.”
Regarding his more recent situation — which involved selling 33 stocks held by him and his wife totaling somewhere between “$628,033 and $1.72 million, in some of the industries hit hardest by the global pandemic” — Burr pleaded his innocence.
“Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak,” his office said in a statement.