Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr sold up to $1.5 million in stocks in early February, while assuring the public that the U.S. was prepared to take on the coronavirus, ProPublica reports. Burr’s committee was reportedly receiving daily briefings about the coronavirus at the time of his Feb. 13 selling spree—during which he sold off anywhere between $582,029 and $1.56 million worth of holdings. More specifically, he sold off up to $150,000 worth of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts shares and up to $100,000 of Extended Stay America shares. One week after Burr sold his stocks, the markets tanked and have lost about 30 percent since. Wyndham Hotels stock has reportedly lost two-thirds of its value, while Extended Stay America shares are worth less than half of what Burr sold them at. Just six days before his sales, he reportedly wrote in an op-ed that the country was “better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus.”
His spokesperson said Burr’s sales were made “several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility” due to COVID-19. “As the situation continues to evolve daily, he has been deeply concerned by the steep and sudden toll this pandemic is taking on our economy,” the spokesperson said. His office has not spoken about what kinds of briefing materials Burr may have been receiving prior to his sales.
This comes after the senator was caught on a secret recording telling individuals the virus was “more aggressive in its transmission” than anything in recent history. Burr slammed the article on his remarks as “journalistic malpractice,” but did not address ProPublica’s report.