Following complaints filed by Common Cause, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is under investigation for possible violations of the STOCK Act, a bill that prohibits members and employees of Congress from using private information derived from their official positions for personal benefit. The U.S. Department of Justice, in cooperation with the Securities and Exchange Commission, recently began a probe of stock sales made by Burr and other senators following confidential briefings on COVID-19.
Staff writer David Richman spoke with Thomas Hazen, a UNC law professor who has written extensively on the topics of securities law and insider trading law, to get more information on the STOCK Act and how this investigation may affect Burr.
The Daily Tar Heel: What is the significance of Burr’s actions?
Thomas Hazen: Well, if he had information that was material and if he made the investment decisions, then he would be in violation of the STOCK Act. And those are two pretty big ifs in terms of the facts, I’m not commenting or trying to speculate on what he did or did not know.
So even if he had information, if he could show that, number one, he did not make investment decisions for his own stock, and two, the person making those investment decisions did not know and did not communicate with Burr about that information, then he would probably be okay.