Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) aren't the only senators who sold large stock holdings in late January through mid-February, after receiving closed-door briefings on the COVID-19 coronavirus but before its spread sent the stock market spiraling downward. Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, received regular briefings on the coronavirus while Loeffler began selling between $1.3 million and $3.1 million in stock on the same day she attended a Jan. 24 Senate Health Committee briefing on COVID-19.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a member of the Intelligence Committee, and her husband sold $1.5 million to $6 million worth of shares in San Francisco biotech firm Allogene Therapeutics between Jan. 31 and Feb. 18, The New York Times reports, citing financial disclosure forms. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), an ex-officio Intelligence Committee member, unloaded as much as $400,000 worth of stock in Apple, PayPal, real estate firm Brookfield Asset Management, and other companies on Jan. 27 then up to $100,000 more in Brookfield shares on Feb. 20. The stock market started its sharp descent on Feb. 21.
Feinstein, like Loeffler, said she had no role in selling the stock. "All of Sen. Feinstein's assets are in a blind trust," spokesman Tom Mentzer said in a statement. "She has no involvement in her husband's financial decisions." It isn't clear how Allogene would be tied to the coronavirus outbreak. Loeffler not only sold shares of Exxon Mobil, Ross Stores, AutoZone, and other companies whose value subsequently dropped, on average, 30 percent, according to The Daily Beast. She also purchased stock in two tech companies, one of which specializes in teleworking software. Burr's up to $1.7 million in sales, recorded Feb. 13, liquidated a significant portion of his portfolio, including shares in hotel companies.
Members of Congress have to report stock sales within 45 days under the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which Burr and two other senators voted against.
President Trump is asking the Supreme Court to shield his financial records from House Democrats.