BISMARCK — U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., bought $125,000 of stock in a fund invested in health science firms less than a week after attending a briefing on how the federal government would respond to the impending threat of coronavirus.
Hoeven's financial disclosure records show that he invested in the BlackRock Health Sciences Trust II fund on Jan. 29, 2020. Five days earlier, he and other senators had been briefed by health and State Department officials. Since Hoeven invested in the fund, the stock market fell at unprecedented levels largely due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This story was first reported by CNBC.
His office sent out a press release on the information shared during the briefing, which Hoeven told Forum News Service shows that it was public knowledge. Hoeven said what he learned in the briefing had no bearing on his decision to invest in the fund, which contains shares in medical device and pharmaceutical companies.
Several of Hoeven's colleagues have been accused of insider trading after selling off large amounts of stock following the briefing. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., all dumped stock before the economic downturn hit in late February.
Hoeven said his situation is nothing like that because his colleagues were selling stock, whereas he was buying it.
The former banker also said he has seen negative returns on the fund, which his investment advisor recommended to him. He said his investment in the fund is now worth $87,500, a 30% drop. Hoeven did not provide records showing his poor return on investment in time for publication, but the value of the fund has declined by 30% since Hoeven invested, according to MarketWatch.
Hoeven said he has invested in similar BlackRock funds in the past and they have done well, so he decided to invest in this one too. Hoeven's investment was made on the same day as the fund’s initial public offering, meaning he could not have bought in before the briefing.
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