What’s fast approaching 20,000 Americans have died from the Coronavirus, and there’s still a substantial way to go until the crisis is resolved — but in the meantime, Montana Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte has been accused of insider trading and profiting off the pandemic by the rival gubernatorial campaign of sitting Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, who’s running against the Congressman for the state Republican Party’s gubernatorial nomination. The insider trading claim emerged in an email signed by Fox’s campaign manager Jack Cutter, and it’s unclear what private evidence that Fox may have — he is the state’s chief law enforcement officer, after all — but publicly, Gianforte has already been revealed to hold hundreds of thousands of dollars in personally directed investments in companies like a French manufacturer of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which Trump has touted as a supposed cure for Coronavirus despite a complete lack of evidence.
The email from Fox’s campaign, signed by Cutter and referring to Congressman Gianforte, insists:
‘While most Montanans are struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic, Greg is financing his gubernatorial campaign with profits derived from insider trading that capitalizes on the COVID-19 pandemic. As revelations and bad news for Greg continue to surface, it’s no wonder that national sources predict that Republicans’ substantial advantage is insufficient to overcome Greg’s baggage if he’s the Republican nominee.’
Gianforte is the state’s only Congressman — they only have one, for now — and he first gained infamous notoriety after a physical “body-slam” of reporter Ben Jacobs shortly before his initial election. Jacobs had been seeking to question Gianforte when he assaulted the journalist. Now, Montana is on the political map again heading into November, as the state’s Democratic Governor Steve Bullock is running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Steve Daines. (The state’s other U.S. Senator, Jon Tester, is a Democrat.) The Cook Political Report currently states that the Montana Senate race just “leans” Republican, which is the last category before full-on toss-up status.
Meanwhile, Gianforte is actually not the first Republican member of Congress to get accused of insider trading amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. North Carolina’s Republican Senator Richard Burr has also faced accusations of profiteering off of private information in the wake of revelations of his huge stock sales shortly after a Congressional briefing about the then-looming pandemic. At the time, Burr — like other Republicans — was insisting that the U.S. had little to nothing to worry about. Privately, he was selling off huge shares in industries like travel that stood to be heavily affected by looming stock market volatility.
Among widespread criticism, Minnesota’s Democratic Congresswoman Angie Craig insisted:
‘If your individual stock portfolio is more important to you than serving your constituents, then you should not be a member of Congress.’
If your individual stock portfolio is more important to you than serving your constituents, then you should not be a member of Congress. https://t.co/zXSdMuabLt
— Angie Craig (@RepAngieCraig) April 5, 2020
North Carolina state lawmaker Deb Butler added the pointed question:
‘Who else thinks @SenatorBurr should donate his ill gotten stock gains to either first responders, medical personnel, grocery store clerks or the 400,000 in NC without a job? #hesoldUsout’
— Deb Butler (@DebButlerHD18) April 5, 2020
These criticisms have emerged while Trump himself has continuously seemed to direct government Coronavirus response more according to his personal whims than the facts and science.