Loeffler traded $1.4M in stocks as Congress responded to coronavirus pandemic

 

Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerSenate staff: No precedent for confirming Supreme Court nominee weeks before election Trump, Biden running neck-and-neck in Georgia: poll Trump, Biden tied in Georgia: poll MORE (R-Ga.) and her husband bought and sold about $1.4 million in stocks between mid-February and mid-March as U.S. policymakers scrambled to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

A summary of the couple’s transactions provided by Loeffler’s campaign showed roughly $845,000 in stock sales between Feb. 18 and March 13. During that same period, she and her husband purchased about $590,000 of stock. 

Financial disclosures also show that Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, bought ICE stock and sold it for about $10.9 million.

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A campaign aide to Loeffler noted that the option to buy shares in the company is part of their compensation and is consistent with the couple’s past activity. In 2019, for instance, their sales of ICE stock accounted for about $15.9 million. And in 2018, they reported about $24.5 million in ICE stock sales, according to a summary provided by Loeffler’s campaign.

Loeffler’s stock trades were first reported on Wednesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Wall Street Journal. Senate financial disclosures report transactions in broad ranges, but figures shared by Loeffler’s campaign show more specific values.

The outbreak has roiled financial markets in recent weeks as stay-at-home orders and public health concerns have forced businesses to shutter and workers to be laid off or furloughed. 

Loeffler’s financial disclosures show that she and her husband unloaded shares in retail stores, including Lululemon, Ross and the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, as their value declined. 

They also bought shares in the chemical company DuPont de Nemours, which makes personal protective equipment that is seen as essential to the effort to treat and contain the coronavirus outbreak. Still, DuPont shares have declined in value in recent weeks.

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to fill the Senate seat of former Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLobbying world Loeffler paints herself as 'more conservative than Attila the Hun' in new campaign ad Georgia GOP Senate candidates cite abortion in pushing Ginsburg replacement MORE (R-Ga.) late last year. She’s facing a special election in November, including an intraparty challenge from Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsTrump, Biden running neck-and-neck in Georgia: poll Trump, Biden tied in Georgia: poll Loeffler paints herself as 'more conservative than Attila the Hun' in new campaign ad MORE (R-Ga.), a staunch ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance MORE who has criticized Loeffler’s recent stock trades.

Stock trading by lawmakers has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after financial disclosures showed that a handful of senators sold off shares following a private Senate briefing on the coronavirus outbreak on Jan. 24. 

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Bipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs Rep. Mark Walker says he's been contacted about Liberty University vacancy MORE (R-N.C.) has come under particular scrutiny in the matter. He sold off a significant portion of his portfolio after the Jan. 24 briefing, stoking speculation that he relied on insider knowledge to guide his trades. 

Burr has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he relied on publicly available news reports to make his financial decisions. He also called for a Senate Ethics Committee to look into the stock sales. 

Stock trades by lawmakers have also caught the attention of the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. CNN reported on Monday that the two agencies had launched a coordinated probe into the matter and have already contacted Burr as part of the investigation.

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Loeffler was one of the lawmakers whose transactions were called into question last month after financial disclosures revealed that she and her husband had unloaded seven-figures in stocks after the Jan. 24 briefing. 

Loeffler has not been contacted by investigators regarding her stock trades, according to her spokesperson.

Loeffler has denied any wrongdoing, noting that the trades were made by third-party investment managers without her or her husband’s knowledge. Loeffler and Sprecher have an estimated net worth of at least $500 million and the recent trades account for only a small portion of their portfolio, a campaign spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Loeffler’s campaign said that the senator has always acted in accordance with the law, and dismissed criticism of her stock trades as a smear against her. 

“These false attacks against Senator Loeffler — from the Left, from fake news media, from career politicians — are exactly why people are fed up with Washington,” the spokesperson, Stephen Lawson, said in a statement. 

Kelly Rom, a spokesperson for Loeffler’s Senate office, said in a statement to The Hill that the Georgia senator had done nothing illegal or unethical and noted that the recent trades are in line with her financial track record.

“Senator Loeffler filed another Periodic Transaction Report (PTR) and the facts are still the same,” Rom said in a statement. “These transactions are consistent with historical portfolio activity and include a balanced mix of buys and sells. Her stock portfolio is managed independently by third-party advisors and she is notified, as indicated on the report, after transactions occur.”

“Sen. Loeffler continues to operate with integrity and transparency — following both the spirit and the letter of the law. While some will continue to make baseless accusations devoid of facts, Sen. Loeffler will continue working to keep Americans safe and provide much-needed relief to Georgia families and businesses impacted by COVID-19.”

—Updated at 2:47 p.m.