Two U.S. Republican senators have faced demands to resign after it was reported they sold off millions of dollars worth of stocks just before the market dropped amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic, The Guardian reports.
Richard Burr of North Carolina, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, whose husband is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), denied that they kept the public in the dark about the scale of the threat.
Burr and his wife sold between around $628,000 and $1.7m in more than 30 separate transactions in late January and mid-February, ProPublica and the Center for Responsive Politics reported. Several of the stocks were in companies that own hotels.
It was reported that most of the sales took place on 13 February. Two weeks later on 27 February Burr made a speech in Washington in which he predicted dire consequences from the coronavirus, including school closures and cutbacks in company travel.
There is no evidence that Burr had any inside information as he sold the stocks or spoke to the audience in North Carolina. The Senate intelligence committee did not have any briefings on the pandemic the week when most of the stocks were sold, a source told the Associated Press.
It was also reported on Thursday that Loeffler, the newest member of the Senate, sold off stocks worth seven figures, starting on the day she and other senators received a private briefing about the coronavirus from administration officials and Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.