Mitch McConnell aide implicated in stock market moves during coronavirus' early days
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (screengrab)

According to a Saturday morning report from Politico, a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has now been implicated in the growing scandal of lawmakers who made suspicious stock market trades just as the government was becoming aware of the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The report notes that "Scott Sloofman, a top communications aide in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, purchased stock in a company that could wind up being instrumental in the fight against the coronavirus in late January: Moderna, Inc., which is now testing the first vaccine for the disease in Washington state."

The report goes on to note that Slookman's purchase, "listed as between $1,001 and $15,000," was made "on Jan. 28, one week after Moderna, Inc. announced it was collaborating with the federal government to develop the vaccine. The company’s stock rose in the days since, at some points more than 20 percent.'

According to a spokesman for the senator, the purchase by the aide was for "just under $1,400 in stock, " and was made two weeks after he saw "a CNBC segment featuring Moderna’s CEO discussing plans to develop new medications on Jan. 15."

Politico notes that Sloofman is not alone in falling under scrutiny with three more lawmakers, two Democrats and another Republican, also trading during the early days.

"Previously unreported lawmakers who sold assets in the weeks leading up to the market crash include Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), who unloaded thousands of dollars of stock in Alaska Air and Royal Caribbean cruises," the report states. "Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) purchased between $1,001 and $15,000 of stock in the pharmaceutical company AbbVie Inc., on Feb. 27, the day the company released a statement saying it had donated one of its antiviral drugs to China as an experimental option for treating the coronavirus and that it was exploring a research collaboration on potential treatment options."

According to Davis’ spokesman, a “third party handling her portfolio and does not play a role in the purchase or sale of her stocks.”

Additionally, "On Jan. 29, the day he and others were briefed on the coronavirus, Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) sold between $500,001 and $1 million in Butte-Glenn municipal bonds. He and his wife moved over $2 million from local government bonds to U.S. Treasury notes, considered a port in the storm amid market turbulence, between Jan. 27 and Jan. 29."

Those lawmakers join Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) on the growing list of government officials who are facing scrutiny.

You can read more here.