Charlie Kirk: Senators Profiting Off the Pandemic Shouldn't Just Be Publicly Shamed. They Should Be Criminally Investigated | Opinion

It's been a few days since news broke of Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina and other lawmakers apparently using information they received during security briefings on the "Chinese coronavirus" in January to buy and sell stock before the true extent of the threat was known to the markets. In Burr's case, the sale of stock happened while he was simultaneously downplaying the risk it posed to the American public.

With so much happening in the news, I bet those involved were hoping we would forget.

Not a chance.

Myself and others, like my friend, American Populists founder Jeff Webb, who rail against ruling class privilege and corruption, are not going to stop until all the stock-dumping senators either resign or are criminally investigated.

The most infuriating aspect of this case isn't what they did in this one instance. It's the culture of corruption that is ongoing during the normal course of operating American government. The fact that it has happened at a time of national crisis simply draws more people's attention to it and makes it especially repugnant.

Burr has asked for an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee into the matter. To some, that could sound like he is confident he has nothing to hide. In truth, Burr's calculation is very different. As a Republican member of a Senate with a majority (53-47), and with his own party members in control of the investigative committee, he is counting on a whitewash.

The truth is the American people are sick of business as usual, and we don't care if there is an R or D after your name. Whether it is Lois Lerner weaponizing the IRS, Hillary Clinton and her private server, Senator Dianne Feinstein with a Chinese spy on her staff or James Comey and his lies to the FISA court, Americans have looked on with bewilderment and anger as each was "investigated" by various government entities and allowed to walk away without consequence.

What is especially insidious about the cases of Burr and the three other senators who sold major holdings around the same time—Republicans Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Feinstein, a Democrat of California—is that they have gained when their constituents are seeing their life savings destroyed and their retirement funds wiped out.

I realize that not each case is exactly the same, and I won't deny them their right to defend their name. However, millions of Americans have just had their nest eggs destroyed in a matter of a few weeks, a drop in U.S. equities that is unprecedented. But not these senators.

Who knows how many others did the same but have yet to be exposed?

I, like millions of Americans, sure could have used a tip. I could have benefited from Burr speaking the truth publicly about what he knew privately. Instead, I have had 40 percent of the value in my modest investment portfolio evaporate. The "Financial Final Four" have no such worries, thanks to their ruling-class membership cards and their willingness to exploit its advantages.

Senator Richard Burr
Senator Richard Burr walks to a briefing from Trump administration officials on the coronavirus on February 25 in Washington, D.C. That same month, he sold off as much as $1.7 million in stocks before the market dropped. Mark Wilson/Getty

What many people will find especially disturbing is that prior to 2012, the members of Congress were actually allowed to do what these four senators allegedly did—despite it being clearly unethical. The Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act finally made this kind of activity illegal. So how can lawmakers still get away with it?

How, indeed? The nuances of the law, along with the difficulty in proving intent in cases like these, make it difficult to prosecute such cases. Meanwhile, our federal government has proven completely incapable or unwilling to police itself. The combined value of the stock trades of just these four senators—in just this one instance—exceeds $10 million. That $10 million is more than the average American will earn in an entire lifetime of hard, productive work.

What kind of human does this and then turns to constituents and says we're going to be just fine?

In normal times, most of my efforts are directed at proposing new ideas to limit the size of government, making it more receptive to free market principles. But how are any of us ever going to get reforms passed if the very people we need to champion them are busy using the status quo to fatten themselves at the people's expense?

The answer is, we won't.

We need a thorough house cleaning (and a Senate cleaning, in this case). I am calling for an investigation of all these senators by Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department. If we cannot engage the top law enforcement arm of the federal government to investigate the most highly trusted elected public servants, then perhaps we need to take the word "justice" off the side of the building.

Charlie Kirk is the author of The New York Times bestseller The MAGA Doctrine: The Only Ideas That Will Win the Future and host of The Charlie Kirk Show.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own. Senators Richard Burr, Dianne Feinstein, James Inhofe and Kelly Loeffler have all denied allegations of insider trading.