April 15, 2020/Press

NEW: Thom Tillis Again Refuses to Stand Up to His Own Party, Declines to Say Burr Should Give Up Chairmanship after Stock Selling Scandal

This morning, in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Senator Tillis again weakly confirmed he won’t stand up to his own party, declining to say whether Senator Burr should step down from his Senate Intelligence Committee chairmanship after Burr used that very position to his own financial benefit.

Pressed repeatedly on what he thought about Senator Burr’s growing scandals and whether Burr should lose his chairmanship, Tillis said “only that the decision is up to GOP leadership.” After Hewitt said that Burr “ought to step down as chairman of the Intel Committee,” Tillis reiterated his tired line that Burr owes “an explanation” – the same line other Republicans and Trump-allies have blasted as “a low-energy establishment Senate response.

Yesterday, ProPublica reported that Senator Richard Burr sold his Washington, D.C. townhouse in a private transaction to a longtime lobbyist who worked “on behalf of a stream of clients with business before Burr’s committees” for above market value. That report is just the latest scandal revealing that Burr has looked out for himself and not North Carolinians — he told donors but not the public about the extent of the coronavirus threat, dumped stock ahead of a market sell-off after receiving private briefings, and sold a stake in a Dutch fertilizer company before its stock tanked.

Tillis has repeatedly refused to stand up to his own party, most notably when he “meekly acquiesced in the money grab” on President Trump’s sham emergency declaration.

“Senator Tillis is too weak to stand up to his own party, even when it’s painfully clear that his North Carolina colleague puts his own financial interest before the very voters Senator Tillis hopes to win this November,” NCDP spokesman Robert Howard said. “Senator Tillis is a weak, low-energy politician who will never stand up for North Carolinians when they need him.”

Washington Post: Tillis declines to say whether Burr should step down as Senate Intelligence chairman due to stock trade investigation
By Paul Kane and Felicia Sonmez 
April 15, 2020

Key Points:

  • Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on Wednesday declined to say whether his North Carolina colleague, Sen. Richard Burr (R), should stay on as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying only that the decision is up to GOP leadership.
  • Burr has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks for stock trades he made as the U.S. braced for the coronavirus pandemic. The Justice Department is investigating the trades, and Burr has faced calls from some corners to resign.
  • In Wednesday’s radio interview, Hewitt raised the topic and said that he believes Burr “ought to step down as chairman of the Intel Committee.”
  • Tillis replied that he hadn’t discussed the matter with Burr and noted that the Senate Ethics Committee and Department of Justice are investigating.
  • Hewitt kept pressing and declared of Burr, “I have no confidence in him until this is done.”
  • “Well, regardless of what happens with the investigation, I think Senator Burr owes everybody in North Carolina and the United States an explanation, and we’ll see where the investigation goes,’ Tillis replied. “With respect to his chairmanship, that’s a decision that he and, that would be better left to him and the leadership.”
  • Regardless how the investigation unfolds, Burr is expected to step down as Intelligence Committee chairman at the end of the year due to GOP term limits in the Senate. But some Republicans, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), have called for Burr to be removed from his position leading the panel immediately because of the controversy.
  • In mid-February, Burr sold 33 stocks held by him and his wife, estimated to be worth between $628,033 and $1.7 million, Senate financial disclosures show. It was the largest number of stocks he had sold in one day since at least 2016, records show.
  • While he was receiving daily briefings on the mounting pandemic, Burr publicly played down the threat posed by the novel coronavirus.
  • Burr was dealt some further bad news Tuesday with the publication of a ProPublica report that delved into the details of the senator’s 2017 off-market sale of his home in the District.