Like it or not, Sen. Richard Burr is one of ours.
He lives in Winston-Salem. He played football at Wake Forest University, where, as a Kappa Sig, he likely acquired his habit of going sockless, even (or especially!) in a business suit. For most of his time in the Senate, we would sometimes see him around town, eating at restaurants or driving his ridiculous car.
We still remember when he advised his wife to start a run on the bank in the fall of 2008, when the economy collapsed. We watched as he became one of the most conservative members of the Senate in 2011, cringed when he became part of Donald Trump’s 2016 election team, gasped when he actually voted to impeach Trump after the second hearing.
Now he’s embroiled in a scandal of his own making that he can’t seem to shake: the timely sale of $1.75 million or so in stock owned by him and a couple close relatives, executed between Jan. 31 and Feb. 13 of 2020, after he learned about the COVID threat but before the general public knew what was coming. According to reporting by the News & Observer, the transactions enabled him to avoid nearly $90,000 in losses and make almost $165,000 in returns.
Just because no charges have been filed… yet… doesn’t mean this is not insider trading.
Burr declared shortly after winning re-election in 2016 that he would be retiring after this term, making him the biggest lame duck in Senate history. So in his last year of service, this scandal is following him home like a string of cans tied to a dog’s tail.
His neighbors in Winston-Salem might be able to overlook his undeniable role in helping elect Donald Trump — he did vote to impeach, eventually — and maybe even his silence on Trump’s threat to national security; Burr did his homework as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, so he knows exactly why there shouldn’t be classified materials stored in the basement of a country club.
But they might not be so quick to forgive his financial crimes — some because, you know, they’re crimes, and others because he did not share what he knew with them.
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