MoveOn is waging an advertising war against Sen. Richard Burr for reportedly profiting off non-public information before the stock market cratered in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The North Carolina Republican is not up for reelection until 2022, but the liberal group’s ad campaign on Facebook and in the Raleigh News & Observer aims to force Mr. Burr from office immediately. The ads feature a black-and-white photograph of Mr. Burr with a hand shaded in red to show he was “caught red handed.”
Mr. Burr, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, reportedly sold about $1.7 million in stock after learning of the coronavirus’ potentially calamitous impact before the information available to him became public knowledge. He also reportedly shared warnings with private donors while publicly espousing America’s preparedness to combat the virus.
“In public, Sen. Burr misleadingly reassured voters about America’s novel coronavirus preparedness, parroting the Trump-GOP party line. But behind the scenes, he was selling off up to $1.7 million in personal stock holdings,” the MoveOn ad on Facebook reads. “Sen. Burr was caught red handed using private information for his personal profit, at our expense — it’s time for him to resign.”
MoveOn ran its ads to “take over” the homepage of the Raleigh News & Observer website on Thursday, and splashed banner ads across the newspaper’s digital articles as well. MoveOn has spent as much as $2,000 on anti-Burr ads that began running on Facebook on March 21, according to the Facebook Ad Library.
Many of Mr. Burr’s conservative allies also have called for his resignation. Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has suggested he resign, and fellow Republican lawmakers have pressured Mr. Burr, including Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida who requested the Senate immediately remove Mr. Burr from leadership of the intelligence committee. Mr. Gaetz also has called on Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, to refer Mr. Burr to the Justice Department for prosecution.
Mr. Burr’s office pointed to his statement saying that he relied on news reports to make his stock moves and has requested the Senate Ethics Committee review his actions.
Mr. Burr is not the only senator facing accusations of improperly profiting off the stock market tanking amid the coronavirus outbreak. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat; Kelly Loeffler, Georgia Republican; and Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, all are facing accusations of impropriety.
Ms. Feinstein told the Los Angeles Times the transactions in question were made by her husband. She said she did not attend a private Jan. 24 briefing for senators about the coronavirus before the stock moves were made.
Mr. Inhofe told The New York Times he canceled the transaction in question after he became aware of it, and he said the transaction was made by a third-party adviser.
Ms. Loeffler tweeted on March 20 that she was not involved in the decision-making of the trades in question, nor was she in communication with her third-party financial advisers. Ms. Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and founder and chairman of the Intercontinental Exchange.
MoveOn has run ads focusing on accusations of financial impropriety against Mr. Burr and Ms. Loeffler. The group did not respond to requests for comment about its ads and why it is not targeting Mr. Inhofe or Ms. Feinstein.
The Facebook Ad Library shows MoveOn began running ads against Mr. Burr and Ms. Loeffler on March 20. Within one week, MoveOn rendered its ads against Ms. Loeffler inactive on Facebook while expanding its ads against Mr. Burr in the Raleigh News & Observer.
Ms. Loeffler is running to keep her seat in a special election in November, with a potential runoff election for the seat following in January 2021, and then a regular election for the seat will be held in 2022. The next election for Mr. Burr’s seat does not arrive until 2022.
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