CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina Senator Richard Burr has temporarily stepped down as the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, one day after the FBI seized his phone.
It’s part of an investigation into insider trading, Burr sold off over a million dollars in stock just before the market crashed because of coronavirus.
Depending on what happens with the investigation, and if Senator Burr ends up resigning from his seat in North Carolina, political analysts say this could have a big impact on the republican party in North Carolina.
Calls for Burr’s resignation started in March, but it seemingly became more serious after the FBI got involved.
“The FBI is probably fully engaged in the investigation. When they go after a sitting U.S. Senator, that poses a real question about the depth of the investigation,” says Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College.
Burr faces questions about whether he privately warned donors of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and used inside information when selling off stocks.
It could cause a shake up politically in North Carolina.
“If he resigns before September 4, the special election would be held this November. So, we would not only have an election for Senator Tillis’ seat, but we would also have one for Senator Burr,” says Bitzer. In that case, the candidates would be picked by the political parties’ executive committees.
If Burr resigned after September 4, there wouldn’t be a special election, Governor Cooper would appoint one of three people put forward by the state GOP.
Regardless, the entire investigation could hurt Republicans in North Carolina.
“I think this continues to cause trouble for Senator Tillis, who has kind of come out a little more aggressively today in calling for explanations by his colleague. It certainly doesn’t help Tillis’ campaign when he is a member of the party and his colleague is under such strict scrutiny,” says Bitzer.
Senator Burr was not up for re-election until 2022, he has said publicly he would not be running again.