Matthew Sanderson Speaks to ABC News on Senator Burr
Republican Sen. Richard Burr is defending his decision to sell up to $1.72 million in stock ahead of the impact of coronavirus on global markets and has called on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether he breached any laws or congressional rules.
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Matthew Sanderson, an ethics lawyer and a Republican, said he viewed Burr’s statement as a "last gasp type of defense." He said several aspects of Burr’s stock sale raise red flags. First, Burr acknowledges that he directed the trades himself. Burr says he decided to sell his stocks based on CNBC’s health and science reporting out of Asia. At the time, CNBC was carrying reports on the potential for coronavirus to reach the U.S., and on the signs that travel demand would slump across the Asia-Pacific region.
"You have the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman saying, as a last resort defense, that he wasn’t relying on his classified briefings, but was instead simply referencing CNBC reports that were available to the entire market," Sanderson said. "To me that doesn’t hold any water.”"
If the CNBC reports drove his decision, Sanderson said, you would expect to see others making similar sales. Markets are designed to respond to publicly available knowledge, he said, and yet Burr’s sales came weeks ahead of those by the broader public.
"These are exactly the type of facts that gave rise to the STOCK Act," Sanderson said. "That’s why I think it should be investigated. You shouldn’t be telling the public one thing, and your broker another."
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