Getting ‘Woke’ to Burr’s Greed

Senator Richard Burr

Senator Richard Burr

I may not be good at very many things, but I’ve always been pretty good with words, so it is particularly frustrating to me that I can’t find just the right word to describe Senator Richard Burr. “Congenial” comes to mind because that’s what he is whenever you meet him in person. “Humble” is another word that might describe Burr because not once have I ever known him to brag about himself, not even when the opportunity to do so presented itself, like when he appeared on my Triad Today television show. But something happened to Richard when he went to Washington. Instead of taking his place at the table of public service, he took his turn at the feeding trough, and enriched himself in ways that were unavailable to his constituents. In doing so repeatedly, Burr has forced me at times to use less flattering words to describe him. Words like “greedy”, and “corrupt”. But his latest transgression makes even those words seem inadequate when describing his arrogance and abuse of power.

In December of last year an animal virus jumped into a human host in Wuhan, capital of the Hubei province of China. The Trump administration was aware of the fast-spreading coronavirus, and would have had time to prevent its spread into America had not our Idiot-in-Chief dismantled Obama’s Pandemic Task Force, and then implied the disease was a hoax. Nevertheless, On January 15, an American man returned from China, landed at the Seattle airport, and brought the pandemic with him. On January 24, Richard Burr and other senators were briefed about the spreading virus by Dr. Anthony Fauci. Three days later, according to Reuters, Burr, as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, began receiving daily updates on COVID-19. Then, just coincidentally, Burr began to liquidate his stocks, including all of those in the hotel and hospitality industry. On three separate days, January 31, February 4, and February 13, he made a total of 33 stock trades worth an estimated $1.7 million dollars! And while trading on insider information is a crime, what makes these transactions so odious is the fact that several days before Burr’s stock dump, he wrote an Op-Ed for FOX news in which he assured the public that America was, “better prepared than ever before to face emerging public health threats.” Burr knew that was a lie, but he needed to protect the value of his investments until he could unload them. After he did, Burr came clean when speaking to the Tar Heel Circle, a private group of high-rollers. Said Burr of the coronavirus, “It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything we have seen in recent history.” He would know, because, in addition to his privileged briefings, Burr also wrote the Federal Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006.

When news of Burr’s insider stock trades broke, critics from both sides of the aisle began calling for him to resign. Those included Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, North Carolina Democratic Party chief Wayne Goodwin, and conservative FOX News host Tucker Carlson who said, “There is no greater moral crime than betraying your country in a time of crisis, and that appears to be what happened.” Meanwhile, Scott Huffman, a candidate for Congress in the 13th district, was angry with Burr for only warning big donors of the impending pandemic. Speaking with the Winston-Salem Journal, Huffman said, “Shame on you [Richard] for not stepping up and sounding the alarm so we could have started preparing then.”

I’m really glad to see that so many people are finally getting “woke” to Burr’s long standing proclivity for profiteering, but some of us have been calling for Richard to resign for over a decade. That’s because, among other things, he has consistently voted with the interests of industries who he should have been regulating. For example, he sat on committees to oversee the FDA, Medicare and Medicaid, while (according to companies that manufacture drugs and medical devices donated a million dollars to his last campaign. Burr also voted against every gun reform measure. Why? Because the NRA gave his campaign $7 million dollars. He also voted time and again to keep low-cost prescription drugs out of the US market, while accepting over $400,000 from Big Pharma. And, not surprisingly, he was one of only three senators to vote against the Stock Act, which prohibits members of Congress from trading on and profiting from inside knowledge of the stock markets.

According to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Burr’s net worth in 1994 was $189,000, but by 2004 it had soared to over $2.6 million. That’s an increase in net worth of 500% during a period when, according to Ballotpedia, the average American household net worth increased by less than one percent. Get the picture?

Burr’s latest money grab was the most blatant of his political career because it comes at a time when Americans are being laid off and locked in, as thousands of their neighbors die from a horrible virus. So, here I am still searching for the one word that best describes Richard Burr, and the word I’ve settled on is “predator”, which is derived from the Latin for “plunderer”. These days we put predators in jail. I’m just saying.

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