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Richard Burr needs to explain himself to North Carolinians

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) (Photo by Greg Nash- Pool/Getty Images)

Maybe North Carolina’s senior U.S. Senator, Richard Burr, has already checked out.

Burr, who’s never really been known as a workaholic, has already been censured by his own party for having the temerity to vote to convict Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial, and has just a few months left in his third Senate term.

And given such a set of circumstances, one supposes it’s entirely possible that, after 30 years in Washington, the Winston-Salem Republican has had his fill of the spotlight and is already moving to wrap things up, and get on with life after politics. A judge’s order recently referred to him as “former Senator Burr.”

Unfortunately for Burr, that’s not good enough — or, at least, it ought not to be good enough — when it comes to the latest revelations regarding his controversial stock sales at the very outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As multiple news outlets have reported, the warrant used by federal investigators to obtain Burr’s cellphone was unsealed yesterday and it reveals some disturbing facts.

This is from a report by CNN:

Sen. Richard Burr avoided about $87,000 of losses when he sold off stock at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a 2020 search warrant affidavit unsealed on Monday.

Investigators said in the warrant that because of his position in Congress, the North Carolina Republican knew about the threat of Covid-19 in February — before public concern of severe economic impacts from the pandemic crescendoed. The Justice Department launched an insider trading investigation into Burr, which eventually concluded without criminal charges.

The warrant affidavit and other court records were unsealed following a lawsuit by the Los Angeles Times.

According to investigators, the senator made a series of “well-timed stock sales” and sold more than 95% of the holdings in his Individual Retirement Account. “As a result of Senator Burr’s sales on February 13, 2020, his portfolio went from approximately 83% in equities to approximately 3% in equities,” the affidavit says.

The story went on to report that Burr “did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.”

While Burr has thus far avoided criminal prosecution (and it appears it will likely stay that way), he badly needs to explain himself and his actions to the millions of North Carolinians he swore under an oath to serve. Maybe he’s got a believable story. The man clearly has at least some moral compass given his impeachment vote.

But unless he speaks up soon (and provides a damn compelling explanation for what appears, at best, to have been deeply sketchy and unethical behavior) he will leave office under a dark cloud and with a badly tarnished reputation as just another  grasping and slimy politician on the make — a man who viewed public service as a means to line his own pockets.

And that would be one heck of a lousy legacy for someone who’s spent most of his adult life in elected office.

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Richard Burr needs to explain himself to North Carolinians