‘She’s less credible than the Chinese government…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Facing added pressure from both from colleagues and voters after an alleged insider-trading scandal, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., announced that she and her husband planned to cash out their individual stock holdings and invest, instead, in mutual funds.
My husband & I are liquidating our holdings in managed accounts. I’m not doing this because I have to. I’m doing it to move beyond the distraction and put the focus back on the essential work we must all do to defeat the coronavirus. https://t.co/pdagq4E6Uf #gapol #gasen
— Kelly Loeffler (@KLoeffler) April 8, 2020
But a spokesman for one of her top political rivals, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said divesting now is tantamount to an admission of wrongdoing.
“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,” he said. “She’s less credible than the Chinese government. Same advisors, different funds and no blind trust? We’re not buying it.”
Loeffler was a longtime executive at a Fortune 500 financial services firm prior to her recent Senate appointment.
Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, still works in the financial services industry—as CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange.
Their investments came under intense bipartisan scrutiny last month when financial disclosure reports showed that Loeffler and three other senators had made a series of stock sell-offs beginning Jan. 24. That was the same day health officials team briefed Senate committees about the potential pandemic threat of the Wuhan coronavirus.
From the emergency Senate briefing to when news reports first outed her stock sales, advisors acting on Loeffler’s behalf made 29 transactions and sold between $1,275,000 and $3,100,000 in stock.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece published Wednesday, Loeffler maintained that she never used confidential information to profit from the stock market.
“In its hunger to place blame, the media fixated on a fantasy of improper congressional trading,” she wrote.
“… [A]ll we did was meet public-health leaders and ask them questions about the emerging virus,” she added.
Loeffler didn’t deny she profited from the sales, but offered that “third party advisors” had bought and sold the stocks on her behalf.
Amid the public uproar, she has agreed to cooperate with the Senate Ethics Committee, while still insisting that criticism of her stock trades is “ridiculous” and “baseless.”
Even so, the newly minted lawmaker is now fighting for her political life against Collins, a high-profile challenger from her own party.
In addition to a Democratic opponent, Loeffler will face Collins in a November special-election race, for which there was no party primary due to the unique circumstances.
Collins has been a prominent ally of President Donald Trump, including serving as his top defender against Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearing last year.
He had lobbied for the appointment to replace Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired late last year for health reasons. However, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp saw Loeffler as a safer bet to hold the seat—and also may have factored into account her extensive history as a GOP donor.
Democrats increasingly have regarded Georgia as a prize within reach, investing heavy amounts of outside money in far-left candidates like Stacey Abrahms and John Ossoff, whose victory would be a major coup in the conservative, Southern state.
But Loeffler’s deep pockets are now proving to be more liability than asset. According to Collins’ internal campaign polling, he currently has a significant lead over both Loeffler and the top Democratic contender.
Collins has not held back his criticism of Loeffler’s financial scandal since the pandemic caused the market to drop off sharply in March and forced significant business closures, leaving many to suffer the financial fallout.
People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements, and even their lives and Kelly Loeffler is profiting off their pain? I’m sickened just thinking about it.
— Doug Collins (@CollinsforGA) March 20, 2020