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‘In the Law We Call This a Bad Fact’: Sen. Burr’s Brother-in-Law Unloaded Tens of Thousands in Stock on Same Day

Sen. Richard Burr’s brother-in-law Gerald Fauth sold six stocks worth up to $280,000 on the very same day that the North Carolina Republican made a series of stock trades in which he dumped 33 stocks worth between $628,000 and $1.7 million just weeks ahead of markets crashing due to the pandemic, ProPublica reported Wednesday evening.

Burr’s Feb. 13 stock trades are currently the subject of an ethics investigation and are being looked into by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to determine if the transactions were based on information derived from confidential security briefings.

“Fauth avoided between $37,000 and $118,000 in losses by selling off when he did, considering how steeply the companies’ shares fell in recent weeks, according to an analysis by Luke Brindle-Khym, a partner and general counsel of Manhattan-based investigative firm QRI,” the report stated.

“On Feb. 13, Fauth or his spouse sold between $15,001 and $50,000 of Altria, the tobacco company; between $50,001 and $100,000 of snack food maker Mondelez International; and between $1,001 and $15,000 of home furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma. He also sold stakes in several oil companies, which have been hit particularly hard, including between $15,001 and $50,000 of Chevron; between $1,001 and $15,000 of BP and between $15,001 and $50,000 of Royal Dutch Shell.”

Fauth was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017 as one of three member of the National Mediation Board, a federal agency that provides mediation for interstate commerce in the airline and railroad industries.

The same-day trades raises further questions about what motivated Burr to unload the stocks and what communications he might have had with others following a confidential security briefing. Many have noted that this is not what one calls a good look.

As previously reported by Law&Crime, at the same time Burr was preparing to sell-off a massive stock position, he also penned an op-ed for Fox News in which he and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) delivered an optimistic evaluation of the federal government’s response to the global pandemic, writing that “the United States is better prepared than ever before” for such a crisis. That was in early February.

Burr, whose role as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee gives him vast access to otherwise confidential reports, denied allegations that his trades were based on any non-public information in a statement. He said he relied “solely on public news reports” in making his investment decisions. He also asked the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee to “open a complete review” into his February trades.

“Senator Burr participated in the stock market based on public information and he did not coordinate his decision to trade on February 13 with Mr. Fauth,” Burr’s attorney, Alice Fisher said in a statement.

[image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.