Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler said Wednesday she and her husband will liquidate their individual stock positions after weeks of blowback following reports the couple sold millions of dollars worth of stock shortly before the coronavirus pandemic crashed the stock market.
Loeffler, who is the richest senator in the country, again defended the sale of stocks as legal and ethical, and said the trades were made by third parties and without her prior knowledge.
“The truth, as I said when the accusations first surfaced, is that I have never used any confidential information I received while performing my Senate duties as a means of making a private profit. Nor has anyone in my family,” Loeffler wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal called “I Never Traded on Confidential Coronavirus Information.”
Loeffler and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, said they are selling the stocks to avoid further controversy, and not because they have to.
Loeffler said the couple’s stock holdings will be converted into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds by third-party advisers who handle their investments.
“As longtime executives at a Fortune 500 financial-services firm, my husband and I put this arrangement in place to insulate ourselves and our colleagues from these sorts of unfounded accusations,” Loeffler wrote. “In financial services, there is always a risk of coming into contact with nonpublic material information, so the decision to separate ourselves from directing our investments—long before I was appointed to the Senate in January—was an easy one. It is part of what has enabled us to operate throughout our careers with the highest level of integrity and transparency.”
Loeffler and fellow Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina came under fire after SEC filings revealed the two had sold millions of dollars worth of stocks shortly after a briefing on the spread of the impending coronavirus pandemic.
Burr sold up to $1.7 million in stocks — nearly all of his net worth — based “solely on public news reports,” he said afterward.
Loeffler and her husband sold up to $3 million worth of equities following the briefing and just ahead of the stock market crash that began after the S&P 500 and Nasdaq both reached all-time record highs on Feb. 19.
Public filings with the SEC also revealed the couple sold an additional $3.5 million worth of stocks on Feb. 26.
Loeffler contends calls for her resignation are merely political attacks.
“I’ve done everything the right way and in compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, Senate ethics rules and U.S. law,” she wrote. “I’m doing it because the issue isn’t worth the distraction. My family’s investment accounts are being used as weapons for an assault on my character at a time when we should all be focused on making our country safe and strong.”
Editor’s note: Insider trading is a very serious charge and one former congressman, Chris Collins of New York, is currently serving two years and two months in federal prison for it. Do you think everything was aboveboard regarding Loeffler and Burr’s stock dump? Should government officials, who are privy to sensitive, confidential information, be allowed to trade stocks at all, or should they be put in a blind trust while they serve? Share your thoughts below.