ProPublica reported on Thursday that the Securities and Exchange Commission is probing North Carolina senator Richard Burr’s stock trades at the beginning of the pandemic, and has determined that he had “material nonpublic information” when he sold more than $1.6 million worth of holdings in February 2020 — well before the COVID pandemic was a major concern for most Americans. At the time, he was receiving daily briefings on the virus as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The SEC also discovered that the day he dumped his stock, Burr made a brief phone call to his brother-in-law, Gerald Fauth. Immediately after the call, Fauth called his stockbroker and began the process of selling stock himself. One week later, the market crashed.
The SEC has brought a case against Faust to get him to comply with a subpoena, which is how the new information came to light.
“Whether Fauth was himself tipped with inside information from Senator Burr, and whether Fauth knew Senator Burr was violating his duties under the STOCK Act by conveying that information, are matters Fauth is uniquely positioned to speak to,” the SEC said in its filing, per MarketWatch.
Burr, along with a few of his colleagues, had already drawn intense scrutiny for his stock trading in early 2020. He stepped down as Intelligence Committee chair in May of last year, amid a Justice Department probe into his transactions. That investigation was dropped one day before former president Trump left office.