- The Washington Times
Friday, March 20, 2020

Republicans are eager to hear from Senate colleagues who sold stock shares before the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that sent the economy spiraling south.

Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming Republican, said Friday lawmakers are expected to live by the law.

His comments come after a report emerged that Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, Georgia Republican, sold off stock interests in February ahead of the Dow taking a plunge due to the economic upheaval caused by quarantines and fear of the virus spread.

SEE ALSO: Sens. Richard Burr, Kelly Loeffler sold stock before steep market losses from coronavirus

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, and Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, have also been accused of selling off interests before the market crash.

The timing of the sales came as lawmakers were being briefed about the pandemic on Capitol Hill, but weeks before President Trump declared a national emergency.

Mr. Burr, who heads the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sold about $1.7 million in stocks, several in hotel-industry companies, in January and February, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Burr’s sales came just prior to a speech he gave in February where he predicted schools would close and travel would be curtailed due to the coronavirus. But the AP reported there is no information that Mr. Burr had inside information, and his committee did not have any briefings during the week when the stocks were sold.

Mr. Burr took to Twitter to blast the “tabloid-style hit piece,” tweeting NPR misrepresented his speech and that he relayed public information during his remarks.

He said Friday said he’s requested the Senate Ethics Committee to review his sales.

Ms. Loeffler, who is up for reelection, sold off stock in January as lawmakers were being briefed about the crisis. She has dismissed allegations of wrongdoing as “ridiculous and baseless.”

“I do not make investment decisions for my portfolio. Investment decisions are made by multiple third-party advisors without my or my husband’s knowledge or involvement,” she tweeted. “As confirmed in the periodic transaction report to Senate Ethics, I was informed of these purchases and sales on February 16, 2020 — three weeks after they were made.”

The New York Times, meanwhile, reported that Ms. Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, sold off between $1.5 million and $6 million in a California biotech company in January and February.

Her spokesperson dismissed any wrongdoing.

“All of Sen. Feinstein’s assets are in a blind trust,” said Tom Mentzer, Ms. Feinstein’s spokesman. “She has no involvement in her husband’s financial decisions.”

Mr. Trump said he didn’t know a lot about it and declined to criticize the senators.

“They said they did nothing wrong,” Mr. Trump said. “I find them, the entire group, honorable people.”

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