Georgia Sen. Loeffler, who traded ahead of coronavirus fears, will exit individual stocks
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler said Wednesday she and her husband, the chief executive of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, are converting their investment portfolio after criticism of their sales and purchases of millions of dollars’ worth of stocks amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Georgia Republican, who is running to keep her Senate seat in a Nov. 3 nonpartisan primary, announced in a Wall Street Journal opinion-page article that the couple’s stock holdings will be converted to mutual funds and exchange-traded funds to be controlled by third-party advisors.
She and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, parent company of the NYSE, have a net worth estimated at more than $500 million.
“While the American people are enduring the impact of Covid-19, I have become a top target of baseless attacks from political adversaries and the media,” Loeffler wrote in the article, headlined: “I Never Traded on Confidential Coronavirus Information.”
In an effort to move past “these distractions,” Loeffler said the couple’s holdings would be converted.
Loeffler was appointed in December by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to finish the term of Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired.
Loeffler has been criticized about her sales and purchases of stocks after government briefings to Congress on the virus. Loeffler sits on the Senate Health Committee, which held a private session Jan. 24, the day her trading began. She and her husband sold $46,027 worth of stock in an online travel company in the day leading up to President Trump’s announcement of a ban on most European travel to the U.S. They had purchased that stock just days earlier.
Some stock sales by another senator, Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, have prompted a government inquiry.
In a news release Wednesday, Loeffler’s Senate campaign said her investments are managed by third-party money-managing advisors at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Sepio Capital and Wells Fargo. Loeffler had previously refused to identify her advisors.
“These professionals buy, sell and option stocks on behalf of Senator Loeffler and her husband,” the campaign release said. “Neither Senator Loeffler nor her husband directed trading in these accounts.”
Loeffler is also quoted as saying she and her husband put the arrangement in place to insulate themselves “from these sorts of unfounded accusations.”
She faces several challengers in Georgia’s Nov. 3 primary for her Senate seat: fellow Republican Rep. Doug Collins, three Democrats, a Libertarian and an independent. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the top two will be in a runoff probably in January.
Collins has raised the issue of Loeffler’s stock trades in his campaign. His campaign spokesman, Dan McLagan, said in an email Wednesday regarding her move, “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.”
“Same advisors, different funds and no blind trust? We’re not buying it,” McLagan said.
Helen Kalla, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement, “Nothing can undo the damage that’s already been done with voters who have no reason to trust anything she says or does in public office.”
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