Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) disclosed this week that in February 2020, his wife purchased stock in a company that makes an anti-viral once thought to be a treatment for Covid-19. The disclosure comes sixteen months later than is required under the Stock Act, a 2012 law banning insider trading by members of Congress and other government employees that Paul voted for in the Senate nine years ago.
Paul spokesperson Kelsey Cooper told the Washington Post, which first reported the story, that the senator filled out a form to report the investment in 2020 but said the form had not been properly transmitted, something she said Paul didn’t realize until he was completing an annual disclosure. He contacted the Senate Ethics Committee for guidance and submitted a supplemental report, which said that the investment was between $1,000 and $15,000. Under the Stock Act, members must disclose investments within 45 days, and annual disclosures must be made in May. Paul’s remdesivir disclosure came 16 months late, and his annual disclosure was submitted three months late.
But Paul once advocated for the bill that set these requirements he now appears to flout. During a 2012 floor speech in support of the Stock Act, Paul said, “People should not profit off of their involvement in government. They shouldn’t profit off of special relationships. They shouldn’t profit off of special knowledge they gain in the function of serving the people.”
— Peter Wade (@brooklynmutt) August 12, 2021
He continued, “People in government are abusing their roles in government to make more money at the expense of the taxpayer. And I think it should end.”
It’s possible that in February 2020 Paul had access to information about remdesivir that was not yet available to the public. He sits on the health committee in the Senate, and Trump officials had briefed the committee on the emerging threat posed by the virus in January. Paul’s wife made the stock purchase just two days ahead of a WHO assistant director general saying publicly that remdesivir was the “only” drug that “may have real efficacy” against Covid-19, which led to an increase in Gilead’s stock value.
As Columbia University securities law expert Joshua Mitts told the Post, “Not everything about the product was necessarily clear from existing announcements. There could have been information about interest that certain individuals within the administration may have had in the product, or that hospitals here in the U.S. were already loading up.”
Although remdesivir was initially believed to have promise against Covid-19, further studies have found the drug is not as effective against the coronavirus as originally thought, and in November 2020 the WHO recommended against its use in patients with the virus. Paul’s spokesperson said the senator’s wife lost money on the investment.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Paul has been a super spreader of Covid-19 misinformation, which is especially confusing because he has a medical degree. He is an avid anti-masker and was the first senator known to have tested positive for the coronavirus back in March of 2020.
But even after he suspected he might have contracted the virus and got tested — at a time when tests were hard to come by — Paul continued going about his daily activities and exposed others. After he announced a positive test, numerous lawmakers announced they would quarantine because they had come in contact with him. Paul was also the only senator to vote against free Covid-19 testing for all Americans. And he has frequently downplayed the pandemic. In May 2020, he said, “Outside of New England, we’ve had a relatively benign course for this virus nationwide.” And he claimed it would be a “huge mistake” not to send kids to school in person that fall.
Paul also says he is not vaccinated for the disease, claiming he is protected by natural immunity following his infection. But evidence shows that is not the case. One recent study found that people with natural immunity were twice as likely to get reinfected compared to people who are vaccinated.
Undeterred, the senator continues to spread Covid-19 misinformation to this day and has frequently attacked White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. On Wednesday, the senator was suspended from YouTube for seven days after he said that “no one should follow the CDC ‘s anti-science mask mandates.”