Friday, April 17, 2009

A Burr Under His Saddle, for 2010

I think that Burr is dead, if the Dems play this right.

Did you see this? I mean, did you SEE IT?

When the banking crisis hit last fall, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr told his wife to take as much money from the ATM as she could.

It's an anecdote that Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, has told for a while when talking about the nation's financial woes. But after he used it in a speech Monday before the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, it began to ripple across the political world.

In the 40-minute speech, Burr told an audience of about 70 business executives about the recent banking crisis and the federal government's response. He said he was so spooked after a briefing in Washington last fall that he called his wife, Brooke, back in North Carolina.

I mean, here's a guy on the Banking Committee, with better access, to better info, sooner, than the rest of us.

And his response to a crisis is to make a private call to his wife, to empty the bank account?

Suppose for a moment that he thought that if EVERYONE knew what he knew, then they would want to bail out of the banking system, also. He kept the info secret, until he was sure that HIS OWN cash was safe?

Thanks, Senator. Thanks very much, for all your f***ing help.

( are THE man)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems that there are several issues that his statement raises that need to be addressed:

1) What he did is the lowest form of insider trading, protecting himself to ensure he and his family is not harmed by an economic collapse. Unless he walked out of that briefing (which I assume was closed to the public) and made a public statement that he believed the banking system was about to collapse, and there was nothing the Bush administration could do to stop it, then he essentially acted on inside information. This is bad enough, but is worse the more you think about it. He was not trying to use inside information to simply profit on it, rather (and much worse) he was using it to ensure his family would financially survive. In politics it is often difficult to separate actions which are motivated out of concern for the public and those which are motivated by private concerns. His statement is a rare occurrence where a politician acted solely out of a private concern, and in doing so increased the likelihood that the public would suffer for his actions (i.e. banks collapsing and people having no money, in part because people who knew this was coming took their money out).

As an elected official he has the public trust to do what he believes is best for the county, and in this example he acted on a motivation to protect his family at the expense of the public. If he were on a committee that oversees national security and he only warned his family that an attack was coming, and that the government was powerless to stop it, then he would have betrayed the public trust, and his country.

2) Financial trading on private information is a crime. Although in this case, i.e. hording cash, is not the same as trading stocks on inside information as he was not simply trying to benefit financially, he was clearly trying to benefit his family at the expense of the public. So his statement raises the question as to whether he or his family sold stock in banks and financial companies before they collapsed. If so, then the assumption is that he also wanted to benefit financially at the expense of the public. Because of his unsolicited statement the burden is now on him to provide evidence that he did not also benefit financially selling stock and did not break any insider trading laws. Unless he does provide evidence that he did not engage in this behavior, it's fair to assume (based on his ATM statement) that he was motivated to act on this information for financial gain as well.

3)Who is this guy? Frankly, I never even heard of him before seeing the story on TV then on this blog (I thought Dole was still one of he Senators from NC). But from the story it appears that he not only thought his actions of hording cash was a good idea, but something he was proud enough to tell people about. If he is on a committee that overseas the financial sector I would hope that he, or his party, would remove him from this position. It is clear that his proud statement about being briefed on the coming crash and taking actions to protect him and his family rather than informing the people or trying to stop it, that he does not have the integrity to be trusted with a position on the committee that oversees the financial sector. Every time he supports or opposes legislation people will doubt as to whether he is voting in the public interest or his private one. As our financial system is still in crisis, this persistent doubt will on hamper a recovery.

4) Finally, this guy just became the poster child for more regulations on the banking industry. If a politician that is supposed to act in the best interest of the public is clearly, and proudly, acting on a very base private interest, then how can we have confidence that anyone on wall street or in the financial sector would not do the same in the absence of regulations. I know Republicans are supposed to be against more regulation, but this guy just made the Democrats' case for them. Good job Senator! I'm sure your constituents and party appreciate all the hard work you've been doing on behalf of the yourself.