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Disclosures Show Inhofe Sold up to $500,000 in Stocks Before Market Plummeted on COVID-19 Concerns

Matt Trotter

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is among at least four senators to make significant stock sales after an all-Senate briefing on COVID-19 and before the stock market began falling in late February.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr dumped as much as $1.72 million in stocks on Feb. 13 as he was getting daily briefings on the pandemic and publicly downplaying it, according to ProPublica.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler sold off millions of dollars worth of stock in late January, as senators began to get briefings on the virus, according to Senate records.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Inhofe are also facing questions about the timing of stock sales. Inhofe sold as much as $500,000 in holdings.

Financial disclosures filed on Feb. 14 show Inhofe sold between $180,000 and $400,000 across five transactions on Jan. 27. The Senate was briefed on the novel coronavirus outbreak Jan. 24. Inhofe sold off his entire holdings in PayPal, Intuit Inc. and Dranaher Corporation, and partial holdings in Brookfield Asset Management Inc. and Apple.

A disclosure filed March 13 shows Inhofe sold another $50,000 to $100,000 in a single transaction on Feb. 20, less than a week before a severe downturn fueled by concerns about COVID-19 began. Inhofe sold more of his holdings in Brookfield.

In a statement, Inhofe said he was not at the Jan. 24 Senate briefing. Instead, he said he was meeting Oklahomans in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life and with the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania.

"I do not have any involvement in my investment decisions. In December 2018, shortly after becoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I instructed my financial advisor to move me out of all stocks and into mutual funds to avoid any appearance of controversy. My advisor has been doing so faithfully since that time and I am not aware of or consulted about any transactions," Inhofe said in a statement.

Loeffler and Feinstein have made similar statements. Burr has tweeted a statement saying he relied solely on news reports to make his decision and has asked for an ethics review of his stock sales.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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