In case you missed it last night, several news outlets around the country were reporting more bad news for North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr regarding allegations that he engaged in illegal insider trading by dumping part of his stock portfolio after receiving confidential briefings about the COVID-19 threat in his role as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
This is from CNN via WRAL.com:
Federal agents seized a cellphone belonging to Sen. Richard Burr on Wednesday night as part of a Justice Department probe into stock transactions he made ahead of the sharp market downturn sparked by concerns over the coronavirus, a law enforcement official told the Los Angeles Times.
The North Carolina Republican turned over his phone after agents served a search warrant at his home in the Washington area, the official told the newspaper.
The warrant and subsequent cell phone seizure mark a notable step in the probe into whether Burr sought to profit from information he obtained in nonpublic briefings about the virus’s spread. CNN has reached out to Burr, his attorney, the Justice Department and the FBI for comment ….
Several other senators from both parties also sold and bought stock ahead of the market downturn that resulted from the pandemic, although it’s not clear who else the Justice Department may be looking at.
Congress passed the Stock Act in 2012, which made it illegal for lawmakers to use inside information for financial benefit. Under insider trading laws, prosecutors would need to prove the lawmakers had traded based on material nonpublic information they had received in violation of a duty to keep it confidential.
Burr, who was comfortably re-elected in 2016, has already announced that he will not run again in 2022. If he resigns, a 2018 law approved by Republican supermajorities in the General Assembly specifies that Gov. Cooper would have to select from a list of three individuals submitted by the executive committee of the state Republican Party in naming a replacement. Previously, the governor only had to choose someone affiliated with the same political party as the outgoing senator.