Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., sold as much as $1.7 million in stocks just before the market dropped in February amid fears about the coronavirus epidemic.
But Georgia Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler also bought and sold stocks during the same time they were receiving briefings on the coronavirus outbreak, leading to questions about whether they used inside information to guide their financial dealings, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Senate records show that Burr and his wife sold between roughly $600,000 and $1.7 million in more than 30 separate transactions in late January and mid-February. That was just before the market began to fall and as government health officials began to issue stark warnings about the effects of the virus.
Perdue in nearly 100 transactions bought and sold in equal amounts, although exact figures cannot be determined because senators are only required to report transactions within ranges. Loeffler unloaded stocks at a much more rapid pace than she made purchases, taking money out of the market.
Loeffler, in tweets posted shortly after midnight, dismissed the criticism.
“This is a ridiculous and baseless attack,” she wrote. “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.”
Loeffler said she wasn’t aware of transactions made in late January until Feb. 16, three weeks after they occurred.
A spokeswoman for Perdue said that his financial disclosures show he did nothing wrong.
“Senator Perdue goes above and beyond to comply with current law and meet all Senate ethics requirements, he is not involved in any day-to-day investment decisions and uses an outside financial advisor to manage all assets and publicly report every transaction in a timely manner,” Cherie Gillan said.
Perdue’s sales fall anywhere between $148,050 to $995,000 and his purchases are in the range of $141,043 to $890,000. Among his new investments are stocks in Disney and Delta Airlines, companies that haven’t fared well during the outbreak.
A spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia said both members should answer to their constituents.
“Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler must explain to Georgians why they made massive stock sell-offs right after receiving a private briefing, all the while downplaying the threat to Georgia families and then playing politics with a vote on the relief package to help those impacted by the outbreak,” DPG spokesman Alex Floyd said. “Georgians deserve senators who will put their health and safety first, not self-serving politicians using their positions to profit off a crisis.”
Two of Perdue’s opponents are already bashing him on this. First, Teresa Tomlinson (D. GA):
Last night we learned that both of Georgia’s Republican senators sold substantial investment holdings after a closed-door Capitol Hill meeting on January 24, when CDC officials briefed all senators on the dire threat of a global coronavirus pandemic.
David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler knew about the devastating impact of coronavirus, and protected their investments, but they didn’t warn you or the rest of America about the worst global pandemic in one hundred years. One that could take millions of lives from the most vulnerable people in our society.
David Perdue is no “outsider” — he’s an inside trader. Every senator caught up in this corrupt scheme is a disgrace and unfit to serve. I’m not waiting on Perdue to do the right thing and resign — rush a contribution to my campaign to help me beat him in November.
Second, Jon Ossoff (D. GA):