CORONAVIRUS

GOP Senator To Sell Off All Individual Stocks After Coronavirus Trade Backlash

Sen. Kelly Loeffler faced severe scrutiny after reports revealed that she sold up to $3.1 million in stock as the coronavirus pandemic intensified.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) is liquidating all of the individual stock shares she and her husband own together weeks after reports revealed that she sold up to $3.1 million in stock after Congress was briefed by U.S. health officials on the coronavirus in January.

The reports of her and another Republican senator’s sell-off ignited widespread criticism focusing on Republicans’ attempts to downplay the severity of the pandemic and its impact on the U.S.

Loeffler defended herself in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, denying that she sold off the stocks based on the confidential information she received. In that same op-ed, she said she and her husband, Intercontinental Exchange chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, plan to “divest from individual stocks” and move them into exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds.

Intercontinental Exchange owns the New York Stock Exchange.

Loeffler was sworn into Congress in January after Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed her to fill Georgia’s empty Senate seat. She is up for reelection in November.

In a statement also released Wednesday, Loeffler claimed that “there was no material or nonpublic information discussed” during the coronavirus briefing on Jan. 24. The senator said her investments are managed by third-party advisors who take action on behalf of her and her husband, adding that they did not direct their advisors to make the trades.

“I’m not doing this because I have to,” she said of her decision to liquidate the stocks in question. “I’ve done everything the right way and in compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, Senate ethics rules and U.S. law. I’m doing it because the issue isn’t worth the distraction.”

In March, weeks after the coronavirus outbreak began to spread across the U.S. and tanked the stock markets, ProPublica reported that Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) sold between $628,000 and $1.72 million worth of holdings on Feb. 13 ― after assuring the public that the government could properly address the pandemic.

Then the Daily Beast reported that Loeffler reported in January a similar offloading of stocks worth between $1.2 and $3.1 million. The Beast also reported that she purchased stock in a company that owns a teleworking software.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) is running against Loeffler for her seat in the Senate.

His spokesperson told Politico that the senator is admitting wrongdoing by selling the rest of her individual stocks.

“This is essentially a guilty plea, and Georgians who just saw their retirement plans crater while she profited are not going to agree to the plea deal,” Collins’ spokesperson Dan McLagan said in a statement to Politico.

Loeffler’s investments are managed by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Sepio Capital and Wells Fargo, according to the senator.

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