Economy & Business

Dem Rep. Sells Off Stock Purchased amid Coronavirus Outbreak after Being Confronted

U.S. Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Sean Maloney (D-NY) are seen with members as David A. Holmes, Department of State political counselor for the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine and Fiona Hill, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia appear before the House Intelligence Committee during an impeachment inquiry hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., November 21, 2019. Matt McClain/Pool via REUTERS – RC2TFD90JOYL

Representative Peter Welch (D., Vt.) said he had sold off stock in a German coronavirus-test producer and would donate the profits to charity after being confronted about a $7,635.60 investment made after attending House Intelligence Committee briefings on coronavirus in February.

Welch purchased $1,000-$15,000 in stock in Qiagen, the German diagnostics firm that has developed a test for coronavirus that can deliver results in an hour, on February 27, according to his financial records. He also made a $1,000-$15,000 investment in Church and Dwight Company, which produces household cleaner brands like OxiClean and Arm & Hammer, on February 28.

The House Intelligence Committee, of which Welch is a member, received a briefing on coronavirus from the intelligence community on February 27, according to Reuters Reuters.

While Church and Dwight Company’s stock has fallen in recent weeks, Qiagen stock has surged in recent days. A spokesperson for Welch told local news site VTDigger — which first enquired about the story on Monday — that Welch purchased 210 shares at $36.36, and the representative added that he had sold the stocks on Tuesday and would donate the profits, which he estimated were between $300 and $500 — to the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), a Vermont-based charity that helps the homeless.

Qiagen shares sold for as low as $38.81 on Tuesday and closed with a high for the day at $39.86, meaning Welch’s investment rose to anywhere from $8,150.10 to $8,370.60, a profit of $514 to $735, depending on what time of the day he sold.

Welch denied knowledge of the purchase, which he said was made through an investment adviser and without his consultation. “I can assure you that I had no knowledge of the purchase,” he stated to VTDigger. “I had never heard of the company Qiagen.”

He also confirmed that while he had attended intelligence briefings on coronavirus, the information he heard in them did not influence his personal investments. “I know the first information I heard about corona was in the newspaper,” he added.

Members of Congress have come under scrutiny in recent days for their financial dealings ahead of the steep market decline over coronavirus uncertainty, with records showing that Senators Richard Burr (R., N.C.) and Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.) sold off millions of dollars in public stock following a closed-door briefing on the coronavirus in January.

Burr, who did not deny he made the trades himself, said in a statement Friday that his actions “relied solely on public news reports” and that he had asked the Senate Ethics Committee to “open a complete review of the matter with full transparency.”

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