A new financial disclosure made by Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, raises questions about the politician and his motives. In February 2020, the senator’s wife Kelley Paul purchased an individual stock with the potential to grow due to concerns about the impending COVID-19 pandemic.
The virus hadn't reached most of the U.S. yet at the time of the stock purchase. Three weeks later, the World Health Organization declared that the novel coronavirus was a pandemic. Paul's wife purchased up to $15,000 worth of shares in Gilead Sciences on February 27 when there were only 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
Rand Paul's Gilead holdings
According to the company's website, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-focused biopharmaceutical company with the mission to “discover, develop and deliver innovative therapeutics for people with life-threatening diseases.” Gilead stock trades publicly on the Nasdaq Exchange under the ticker symbol "GILD."
Senator Paul's wife purchased between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of GILD shares in late February 2020, but the transaction's disclosure didn't happen within 45 days as required by law.
Gilead gained public prominence early in the COVID-19 pandemic. There was hope that the company's drug remdesivir, an antiviral treatment, would improve COVID-19 outcomes for patients. In April 2021, Gilead stopped its Phase 3 study on remdesivir to treat high-risk non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Senate financial disclosure requirements
According to the 2012 STOCK Act, members of Congress must disclose the purchase and sale of individual stocks, bonds, and commodity futures within 45 days of the transaction. CNBC reported that Senator Paul has disclosed a total of 187 transactions of mutual funds, EIFs, trusts, and government bonds since 2012.
The Gilead share purchase was his only individual stock reported in that period. Senator Paul’s office stated that he filed his financial disclosure on time, but it wasn't sent to the Senate records office due to an oversight.
Several other senators were investigated by federal prosecutors in 2020 prior to the November elections. No charges were filed against any of them, but Senator Kelly Loeffler was defeated in her election bid. Other senators might have faced sharper scrutiny due to the publicity surrounding the issue.
Senator Paul avoided potentially harmful publicity in the crucial months leading up to the election by failing to disclose the stock purchase. As a member of the Senate health committee, Paul might have been privy to key coronavirus information before his wife purchased the Gilead shares.
Senator Rand Paul’s wife
The Kentucky senator’s wife Kelley bought GILD shares near the end of February 2020 when very few COVID-19 cases had been reported. The disclosure states that a number of shares worth between $1,001 and $15,000 was purchased, so the exact number of Gilead shares held by Senator Paul's wife isn't known.
A spokesperson for Senator Paul claimed that it was a losing investment. However, since she still hasn't sold the shares, no losses or gains have been realized. Whether or not Senator Paul or his wife have bought or sold any other stocks in the time since the original GILD purchase is unknown. Kelsey Cooper, Paul’s spokesperson, didn't provide that information.