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Majority of voters say Burr should resign over stock-dumping scandal

Just 22% of North Carolina voters approve of the job Republican Sen. Richard Burr is doing.

By Dan Desai Martin - March 24, 2020
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Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)

A full 60% of North Carolina voters believe Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) should resign after Burr and his wife were discovered to have sold up to $1.7 million in stock days before the market crashed amid coronavirus fears, according to a new poll.

The poll, released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling, showed that only 22% of voters believed Burr should remain in office following the scandal. Even among Republicans, only 38% said Burr should remain in office.

Records first uncovered by ProPublica and the Center for Responsive Politics showed that Burr and his wife sold up to $1.7 million in stocks from late January through the middle of February. Burr, who is the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, made the sales as health officials were warning about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Shortly after Burr made the sales, the stock market crashed, losing close to 30% of its value.

Burr “has betrayed the trust of every North Carolinian in a time of crisis and should resign immediately,” Wayne Goodwin, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, said in a Friday statement shortly after the scandal broke.

On Monday, Burr was sued by shareholders who accused him of using private information to sell most of his assets, Politico reported.

“Senator Burr owed a duty to Congress, the United States government, and citizens of the United States, including Plaintiff, not to use material nonpublic information that he learned by virtue of his duties as a United States Senator in connection with the sale or purchase of any security,” the lawsuit stated.

It is illegal for senators to use nonpublic information to buy and sell stocks.

Burr denied he used inside information that led to the stock sales and has called for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate his actions.

In addition to the market scandal, Burr also faced criticism for comments he made on Feb. 13, when told a small gathering that the new coronavirus was “much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history” and “probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

A recording of the comments, obtained by NPR, showed Burr’s private comments were at odds with his public comments at the time, when Donald Trump was still downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Before the scandal broke, Burr had slightly better approval ratings among North Carolinians. In June, 32% of North Carolina voters approved of his job performance, while 36% disapproved, according to Public Policy Polling.

This week’s poll showed Burr’s overall job approval had dropped to 22%. Approximately 54% of voters said they disapproved.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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