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Richard Burr Favored to Resign from Senate by May 1, 2020; Odds He Stays Set at +150

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in Politics News

Updated Apr 23, 2020 · 12:01 PM PDT

Richard Burr official US Senate photo
Will the North Carolina GOP senator resign following a highly suspicious stock sell-off amid coronavirus concerns? Photo by US Senate (public domain).
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R – NC) is favored to resign from office by May 1, 2020
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman sold anywhere between $600,000 to $1.7 million in stock just before markets sank due to coronavirus concerns
  •  While Burr offered public reassurances the government was prepared to battle the global pandemic, he painted a much more dire picture to a VIP group

Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina is favored to resign from office by May 1, 2020. Odds he quits are at -200, while odds he stays are at +150. The 64-year-old Intelligence Committee Chair is under fire for coincidentally selling anywhere between $600,000 to $1.7 million in stock right before Wall Street reacted to coronavirus concerns.

Burr is privy to the most highly classified information about threats to the nation’s security — including daily briefings on the potential severity of the virus — and offered public reassurances the governments was prepared to battle the COVID-19 outbreak. But weeks later, he told a group of well-healed donors a completely different story.

Odds Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) Resigns from the U.S. Senate Before May 1, 2020

Prop Odds
Yes -200
No +150

 Odds taken on March 20.

These are uneasy times for many Americans — and really, the world — as we battle an unseen enemy known as coronavirus. The pandemic has killed over 10,000 people globally as of Friday according to Johns Hopkins University and new cases are multiplying daily.

Burr co-authored an op-ed piece for Fox News on Feb. 7, which downplayed the threat of COVID-19, claiming the United States was “better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats, like the coronavirus, in large part due to the work of the Senate Health Committee, Congress, and the Trump Administration.”

But then, on Feb. 13, he unloaded massive holdings in major companies, including those in the hotel industry, whose stock has plummeted due to coronavirus concerns.

And two weeks after Burr’s personal sell-off on Feb. 27, as reported by NPR, Burr told well-to-do constituents “There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” he said, according to a secret recording of the remarks. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.” The Spanish Flu killed 50 million people.

Needless to say, the optics don’t look good here. Burr’s dealings raise the specter of insider trading. Starting in 2012, Congress began requiring its members to disclose their stock sales. But the policy stops short of requiring lawmakers to report actual earnings from those sales — hence the wide range reported in Burr’s case. Incidentally, Burr was one of only three senators to oppose the new law.

With twin backdrops of the outbreak changing how we operate on a daily basis and the 2020 election odds being a neck-and-neck race between the incumbent President Trump and likely Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, will Burr stay or go in the next six weeks? Let’s further analyze and make a call.

Damage Control

Well aware of how the situation looks, Burr has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to review the stock sale. Claiming he relied solely on public news reports for the sales, the senior senator from the Tar Heel State said in a statement, “Understanding the assumption many could make in hindsight however, I spoke this morning with the Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and asked him to open a complete review of the matter with full transparency,”

Senate Ethics Chairman James Lankford (R-OK) will oversee the review. But this request smacks of blatant partisanship. In similar fashion to Trump’s impeachment trial before a Republican-controlled Senate, the chances of Lankford finding Burr guilty of any wrongdoing is highly unlikely.


Yes, Burr’s fellow North Carolina senator, Sen. Thom Tillis, applauded the move on Twitter — but that’s Tillis covering his own tracks. Don’t count on the GOP taking out one of their own.

Criticism Coming Left … and Right

It wasn’t surprising to see one of the rock stars of the Democratic Party call for Burr’s resignation on social media.

But when Tucker Carlson is going after you, that doesn’t bode well.

With the Fox News pundit also calling for Burr’s ouster, there might be something to this play. But I’m still skeptical.

The Great Equalizer

As it turns out, Burr wasn’t the only U.S. Senator with curious timing. Three other senators also sold major holdings around the time the former lawn equipment distributor sales manager did. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is also a member of the Intelligence Committee, did. So did Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA).

Feinstein’s involvement — along with her membership on the same committee as Burr — virtually makes it impossible for Democrats to cry foul.

On the other hand, Burr has said he intends to retire once his current term is up in two years. This also isn’t the first time Burr has had questionable dealings with his finances in office. As a Congressman in 2009, Burr recounted how he, after hearing then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson discuss a major company’s difficulty moving money between banks at the outset of the financial crisis, directed his wife to withdraw as much cash as possible from an ATM over multiple days.

One more suspicious factor in the move: Burr is one of the least wealthy members of the Senate. According to Roll Call, his estimated net worth in 2018 was $1.7 million — meaning last month’s move had a significant effect on a soon-to-be-retiree’s nest egg.

Is it possible Republicans bow to pressure and push the lame duck out? Yes. But with the focus of Washington — and the rest of the planet — combating coronavirus — I think Burr is safe.

My pick: Stays in office (+150)

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