Following allegations that U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and other senators sold large amounts of stock after confidential briefings on COVID-19, Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group, has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee.
These complaints aim to prompt investigations into possible violations of insider trading laws and the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.
"There are laws that were passed in 2012 that basically prevent members from making sales of stock or selling stock based on inside information that they have received,” said Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause North Carolina. “It is kind of an insider trading provision that was passed, again, in 2012."
The STOCK Act prohibits members of Congress and other government officials from trading stock based on nonpublic information they learn on Capitol Hill. Penalties for violating insider trading laws can include fines reaching $5 million and up to 20 years in prison.
Common Cause is filing complaints with the DOJ, SEC and Senate Ethics Committee on the basis that Burr, along with four other senators, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), sold large amounts of stocks following confidential briefings on COVID-19 that foreshadowed the stock market crash that began on Feb. 19.