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Congressman Comer Says Stock Moves Ahead Of Coronavirus Pandemic Not Due To Inside Information

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James Comer/Facebook
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  U.S. Rep. Republican James Comer says stock moves he made ahead of a bear market caused by the coronavirus pandemic aren’t connected to any inside information he could have received regarding the coronavirus.

 

The Courier-Journal reported Saturday that Comer sold shares of Bank of America in January, and then bought shares of the online workplace messaging platform Slack Technologies, Inc., in early February. 

 

These moves were ahead of other stock trades made by congressmen and senators who have come under scrutiny because of the appearance of profiting off of inside information, including:

 

As of Saturday afternoon, shares of Bank of America have fallen by more than 40 percent since Comer sold them, as stockholders have sold off bank stocks because of declining interest rates for loans amid coronavirus concerns. According to Comer’s most recent financial disclosure report, Comer sold between $1,000-$15,000 shares of Bank of America on Jan. 3.

Stocks of Slack have increased by approximately six percent since Comer bought them Feb. 3, as the company has expected an uptick in use with more employees across the country and world working from home. Comer said he bought about $6,000 worth of shares in Slack.

WKMS received from Comer’s office a financial disclosure report not yet filed with the Office of the Clerk for the U.S. House of Representatives. The report shows Comer also purchasing stock in several companies, including Bank of America, from Feb. 21 through March 18. 

“There’s been no insider information that I’ve had, and I’ve lost everything I’ve invested,” Comer said. “Obviously, I’m not taking advantage of a situation because I’m like every other American. I’ve lost money.”

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Credit Office of Congressman James Comer
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A financial disclosure report from Comer, showing stock purchases from Feb. 21 through March 18.

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Credit Office of Congressman James Comer
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The second page of the financial disclosure report, provided by Comer.

Comer said he re-purchased stock in Bank of America on Feb. 25 because he wanted to re-invest cash he had on-hand from selling cattle.

“It had gone down from 35 dollars to 30 [dollars], and I thought it would be a good investment,” he said. “If that’s insider information and I was wanting to cheat, I would have sold [stock]...I wouldn’t have bought.”

Bank of America stocks were trading at $31.08 on Feb. 25, down from $34.85 on Feb. 20. 

Comer said he hasn’t been invited to any classified briefings regarding the coronavirus. Comer disclosed the purchase of Slack stock on Feb. 5, two days after some House members reportedly heard a closed-door briefing from health officials regarding the coronavirus.

“When the Slack stock was bought, it was just starting to come into conversation,” he said. “And it was a ‘hoax.’ And that was what Fox News was reporting. And the President wasn’t as concerned about it as he is today.”

Comer also co-sponsored a bill that was eventually signed into law, protecting school lunches for children as schools closed due to the coronavirus.

“I have not and will not be selling any stock while this coronavirus is going on,” he said. “I understand what every American who has a 401(k), I understand what they’re going through. And I’m focused on trying to get the economy back on track.”

 

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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