There probably are no worse despicable human beings than those who profit from others’ misery. In this case, the misery of that Covid-19 has wrought upon the world.
I am referring to the leaked news that Senators, with preemptive knowledge about Covid 19, found it fit sell stocks that would be negatively impacted by this pandemic. Talk about bottom feeders.
We can always count on our politicians, and high-level government players, to have their self-interests at heart. Whether it is taking financial advantage of a crisis such as Covid-19 or being “friendly” to non-American organizations such as the C-Band satellite players. Recall FCC Chairman Pai decision coming under scrutiny for offering ridiculously high compensation to them to vacate some C-band frequencies.
To be fair, there are some who are honest and stand by the principles of right, but they are few and far between. Hats off to Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, who did call the offenders on the carpet.
Back to the stock selling. The Congresspersons in question are Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican; Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican, Sen. James Inhofe a Republican from Oklahoma, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat.
While I would expect such behavior from the current rat pack of Senate Republicans, I was rather disappointed that Sen. Feinstein was part of the problem. However, greed and bad actions are not defined by political persuasion.
And, of course, rather than condemn offenders with equal disdain, President Donald Trump emphasized the fact that Sen. Feinstein was among the those mentioned, rather than demonizing them all. And, in the unlikely event there is any kind of admonishment, at all, it will be insignificant.
Here are some of the ugly details, courtesy of several media outlets including the Washington Times, The Guardian, and USA Today.
Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, sold between $600,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock in more than 30 separate transactions in late January and mid-February. This just before the market began to fall and as government health officials began to issue stark warnings about the effects of the virus. Most of them came on Feb. 13, just before Burr made a speech in Washington, D.C., and after a closed-door Senate briefing, in which he predicted severe consequences from the virus, including closed schools and cutbacks in company travel, according to audio obtained by National Public Radio.
Loeffler, who just happens to be up for reelection, sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock in late January, as senators began to get briefings on the virus, according to Senate records. Interestingly, Loeffler is married to Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman, and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange. Talk about business and political incest!
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, sold off between $1.5 million and $6 million in a California biotech company. And, Inhofe sold between $50,001 and $100,000 in stock in February.
All of these transactions are in the shadows of advanced information they received around the implications of the upcoming Covid-19 crisis.
And of course, they all had justification. Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, downplayed the suggestion that senators were receiving insider information from coronavirus briefings. Mr. Pence chairs the task force.
Loeffler called the data “a ridiculous and baseless attack.” Feinstein’s spokesman Tom Mentzer said that the assets are in a blind trust and, “She has no involvement in her husband’s financial decisions.”
This has some calling for a change in rules for Congresspersons. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that members of Congress should not be allowed to own individual stock. “We are here to serve the public, not to profiteer. It’s shocking that it’s even been allowed up to this point.”
It is well known that Congresspersons have elitist rights. We know it, we are powerless to change it. On rare occasions, when the transgressions are gross, there is some fallout. But, for the most part, it is just business as usual in Congress and expecting any change in the wolves guarding this particular henhouse is just naïve.