WASHINGTON, D.C. – Peter Schweizer, whose investigative books on insider trading within the halls of Congress literally led to law changes, think Richard Burr should be prosecuted for unloading more than $1 million of stock after receiving a classified briefing about the likely impacts of the Wuhan Coronavirus.
Burr was one of four federal lawmakers to dump stocks after the briefing, but before public information on the virus began sinking the stock market. Publicly, Burr was even keeled on the virus threat, even writing op-eds framing it as no big deal. Privately though, he was cautioning people about the seriousness of the coming epidemic, comparing it to the Spanish Flu of 1918, and unloading all his stocks.
“Schweizer joined Friday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host John Hayward to discuss Burr’s selling of between $628,000 and $1.72 million in stock ahead of coronavirus-related market declines.
“Richard Burr’s [stock sell-off] is a classic case of insider trading,” determined Schweizer. “If Richard Burr was an executive at a corporation and he had received a closed door briefing that said a company’s sales were going to go down dramatically, and he sold pretty much all of his stock, it would be insider trading.”
So, what about the Stock Act; what does it mean and did Burr violate it? Schweizer continued to spell it all out on his interview.
“The Stock Act was passed with the critical support of [Andrew] Breitbart,” recalled Schweizer. “Andrew Breitbart was alive at this time and pushed very, very hard for it, and was one of the earliest people behind it. What the Stock Act basically did, passed in 2012, is it extended insider trading laws to members of Congress and their staffs, and what it basically said was that if you are trading stock based on non-public information that you have access to, you can be prosecuted for insider trading. It also required more detailed reporting by elected officials.
The Stock Act also requires disclosure of stock market transactions every 30 days, added Schweizer.
Burr’s stock sell-off meets the criteria for an investigation according to Securities Exchange Commission standards, Schweizer remarked. “If there were ever the sort of case that would warrant this, it would be Senator Burr, because what you look for is a couple of things, and this is based on insider trading [laws] on Wall Street. First of all, does a person make a series of highly unusual and highly successful trades that are well timed? Well in Burr’s case, absolutely. He dumps massive amounts of his stock, and that stock, over the next couple of weeks, dropped by more than 30 percent. So he literally saved himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.”
Will a sitting member of the U.S. Senate really be held accountable? Or, will he get a slap on the wrist from the Ethics Committee and then ride off into the sunset of retirement comforted by all the money he saved himself by trading on inside information?
Read more about Burr’s sketchy trading and the background on insider trading laws in Schweizer’s full interview with Breitbart here.