Sixteen months late, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday filed a disclosure with the Senate revealing that on Feb. 26, 2020, his wife, Kelley, purchased stock in Gilead Sciences, a company that produces an antiviral drug used to treat COVID-19.
Under the STOCK Act, which prohibits members of Congress from using information not available to the public for private profit, the disclosure should have been filed within 45 days of the purchase, The Washington Post reports.
The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. That spring, the Justice Department launched investigations into several senators who sold stock shortly before the pandemic declaration, which upended the financial industry and caused markets to crash worldwide. Gilead makes remdesivir, an antiviral developed to treat hepatitis C that was also tested for use against infectious diseases. It was administered as part of former President Donald Trump's treatment last October when he was hospitalized for COVID-19.
The stock purchase and late filing raise questions about whether Paul and his family used information given to lawmakers about the coronavirus and the government's plans to fight it so they could make a profit, Prof. James D. Cox of Duke University told the Post. "The senator ought to have an explanation for the trade and, more importantly, why it took him almost a year and a half to discover it from his wife," he said.
Paul's spokeswoman, Kelsey Cooper, told the Post that the senator did not attend any confidential briefings about COVID-19, and after Kelley Paul's stock purchase, he filled out the proper reporting form. Paul just recently found out that the form was never transmitted, Cooper said, and after conferring with the Senate Ethics Committee, he filed the supplemental report and an annual disclosure on Wednesday. Kelley Paul made the stock purchase two days after a top WHO official said remdesivir "may have real efficacy" in treating COVID-19. According to Cooper, the purchase was between $1,000 and $15,000, and Kelley Paul ended up losing money.