Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) (L) and Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli walk to a briefing from administration officials on the coronavirus

Here Are the Lawmakers Making a Ton of Money Off of the Coronavirus

The worse things get for you, the more money they make.

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Yesterday, we learned about North Carolina Senator Richard Burr’s decision to essentially sell off information regarding the severity of COVID-19 to his wealthy friends and donors while simultaneously downplaying the danger of the virus to the public. At the same time, according to reports from ProPublica and other outlets, Burr also dumped up to $1.7 million worth of stocks (an amount estimated to be his entire net worth) about a week before the markets began to plunge—again, all while telling the American public that things were going to be just fine.

Burr wasn’t the only Senator to dump huge amounts of stock after being briefed on the coronavirus but well before the markets were being affected. Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler and Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe—both Republicans—as well as California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, all also reportedly sold significant amounts of stocks after the closed-door briefing.

There have been some reports that this might not be as nefarious as it seems—that these dealings were likely done by the lawmakers’ financial advisers, possibly without their knowledge at all, and that those experts would have had reason to believe the market would be taking a substantial drop soon.

Some of those arguments are easier to believe than others.

To make all of this so much worse, it turns out that Burr and others weren’t just selling stocks to protect their existing wealth. They also bought stocks in the few industries that would be set to see their prices soar during a global health pandemic.

So at worst, these lawmakers learned about the dangers knocking at America’s door and their instinct was to dump their stocks, buy new stocks in areas that would make them more money the worse things got for the rest of us.

At best, even if all of this was done by their advisers without their direct interference, this shows that politicians have always been in a unique position to be able to profit off of the misfortune of their constituents.

(via ProPublica, image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.