On Thursday, the Charlotte Observer editorial board published a blistering condemnation of Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), calling on him to step down for selling stock while receiving secret coronavirus briefings.
“Burr has been abandoned by fellow Republicans, some of whom have called for his resignation,” wrote the board. “He’s been sued by a shareholder of Wyndham Hotels & Suites for selling off $150,000 of that company’s stock. The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a statement that, while not using Burr’s name, warned members of Congress about doing what the senator is accused of doing — trading off privileged information and briefings. He is toxic to his party. He is embarrassing to North Carolina. Clearly, his problems are not going to go away. So why isn’t he?”
“How could Burr, who knew enough to sell up to $1.7 million of his stocks on Feb. 13 before the market tanked, only share his intel with a small group of big donors?” asked the board. “Why didn’t Burr provide his assessment to all the constituents he is supposed to serve, as well as the national media? A Republican offering a different COVID-19 perspective than President Trump would have been, at the least, notable. Perhaps it might have jarred skeptical conservatives into safer behavior that slowed the spread of a virus now killing people across the U.S.”
Burr, the board stated, “has not provided adequate answers to those questions.”
The paper noted that Burr has asked for an ethics investigation into his behavior. “But frankly, North Carolinians don’t need an agency or committee of Burr’s peers to tell us what he did was inexcusably wrong. In a crisis that will define his state and country for years, the senator failed in his most fundamental duty, to serve and protect the people who elected him.”
“Now, everything he does will be colored by that failure,” continued the board. “Republicans know Burr is an albatross, an example opponents will use throughout this election season to argue that too many in the GOP, especially the president, have seen COVID-19 through the lens of personal gains and losses. North Carolinians know that he will be a source of shame to our state, that until he honors his long-ago pledge to retire in 2022, he will be the N.C. senator who tried to steal a lifeboat all for himself.”
“And yet, Burr seems to have no intention of doing everyone a favor and resigning. Sadly, that’s not a surprise,” concluded the board. “At the moment we needed him most, Richard Burr was thinking mostly about himself. One week later, that hasn’t changed.”
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