Republican Sen. Richard Burr may have dumped as much as $1.7 million in stock ahead of the coronavirus-driven downturn.
Burr chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee — which was receiving daily classified briefings about the virus at the time of his sale.
Critics say that makes Burr's sale unethical, as he possibly used information the rest of the public did not have in order to save himself money amid the stock market slide.
It's unclear if Burr will resign — or face any consequences for his actions.
In trying to excuse Burr's actions, his spokesperson said in a statement to Politico, "Senator Burr filed a financial disclosure form for personal transactions made several weeks before the U.S. and financial markets showed signs of volatility due to the growing coronavirus outbreak."
Of course, that explanation is exactly what is drawing criticism.
A poll from the progressive organization Data for Progress showed that 50% of North Carolina voters want Burr to resign.
If Burr resigned, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper would pick his replacement. But unlike many states, where the governor is free to choose whomever they want to fill the vacancy, Cooper would be forced to pick a Republican.
That's because in 2018, the state's GOP-controlled legislature changed the law to tie Cooper's hand.
According to the law:
The governor shall appoint from a list of three persons recommended by the state executive committee of the political party with which the vacating member was affiliated when elected if that party executive committee makes recommendations within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy.
That means that Cooper would be given a list of three Republicans to choose from.
Among other things, the Legislature weakened Cooper's control of state elections, including trying to ensure that Republicans would chair state elections boards in every election year. That law in particular was ruled unconstitutional.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.