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Dem lawmaker bought COVID-19 test-kit stock after a secret briefing. When questioned about it, he sold the stock and donated the earnings.

Well, that's suspicious

Photo by Jacquelyn Martin - Pool/Getty Images

After attending a secret meeting about the coronavirus pandemic last month, Democratic Rep. Peter Welch (Vt.) reportedly bought stock from a German diagnostics company that produces COVID-19 testing kits.

Welch purchased more than $7,500 worth of stock in Qiagen, reported VTDigger, a Vermont-based nonprofit news outlet. The outlet also noted that Qiagen is one of the rare companies that has experienced increasing stock value amid the global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

Welch bought the stock on Feb. 27, the very same day the House Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member, was reportedly briefed by U.S. spy agencies regarding the virus.

When questioned about the suspicious activity by the VTDigger, Welch announced that he had sold the stocks and planned to donate the earnings:

In an interview Tuesday, the Vermont Democrat said the purchase was made by his investment adviser and without his consultation. "I can assure you that I had no knowledge of the purchase," he said. "I had never heard of the company Qiagen."

Welch said he sold the Qiagen stocks Tuesday and planned to donate all profits from the transaction — he estimated somewhere between $300 and $500 — to the Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), a Vermont-based charity that helps the homeless.

... Welch acknowledged attending recent intelligence briefings, but said he was barred from commenting on their contents. He contended that congressional briefings do not influence his investment portfolio, and said he was first alerted to the coronavirus threat through public channels. "I know the first information I heard about corona was in the newspaper," he said.

The news outlet went on to note, given the date of purchase and Welch's supposed date of sale, that the Vermont representative likely made between $514 and $735, depending on what time Tuesday he sold the stock.

While the earnings are modest, relatively speaking, the upshot is that Welch may have used insider knowledge that only he and a select few other people were privy to in order to advance his own financial interests.

The allegations against Welch come as several other members of Congress have been accused of taking advantage of classified briefings about COVID-19 by buying or selling off stocks.

Politico noted that while "it's illegal for lawmakers and aides to trade stocks based on private information," it is legal for them "to buy and sell shares based on public information they absorb on Capitol Hill so long as they disclose those trades within 30 days."

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