Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler traded millions more dollars in stocks than previously reported after attending a non-public 24 January briefing on the coronavirus whose spread into a pandemic has sunk global markets.
More than $18.7m in stock in Intercontinental Exchange, a trading group that owns the New York Stock Exchange, was sold on Ms Loeffler and her husband’s behalf in three separate transactions dated 26 February and 11 March, according to financial disclosures reviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the senator’s hometown paper.
Ms Loeffler is a former executive at Intercontinental Exchange, where her husband, Jeff Sprecher, is CEO.
An aide to Ms Loeffler told The Independent Wednesday that the sale of the Intercontinental Exchange stocks is a typical financial choice for executives at the company, who are given the option to initially purchase them at a discounted rate.
“This is the primary way they are compensated,” the aide said. “Selling this stock is a normal practice for them and other executives.”
Ms Loeffler and Mr Sprecher also sold off stocks in clothing retailers Lululemon and TJX Cos., the parent company of popular store brands TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
The freshman senator’s office claimed Wednesday that such sales are standard procedure for her and her husband.
“These transactions are consistent with historical portfolio activity and include a balanced mix of buys and sells,” said Ms Loeffler spokeswoman Kerry Rom. “Her stock portfolio is managed independently by third-party advisors and she is notified, as indicated on the report, after transactions occur.”
Federal watchdogs have raised concerns over Ms Loeffler’s and other lawmakers’ trading of stocks in individual companies after lawmakers began receiving private intel briefings about the then-nascent health crisis. The Justice Department is now reviewing some lawmakers’ recent stock trades, CNN reported earlier this week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped more than 8,000 points – or more than a quarter of its value – since Ms Loeffler and others attended the 24 January senators-only briefing on the coronavirus.
As late as 10 March, despite selling off millions in stocks, Ms Loeffler was publicly touting the “strong” US economy and “growing” job numbers.
“Concerned about #coronavirus? Remember this: The consumer is strong, the economy is strong, & jobs are growing, which puts us in the best economic position to tackle #COVID19 & keep Americans safe,” she tweeted.
Not all of Ms Loeffler’s transactions since she began receiving private intel briefings on the coronavirus reflect a pessimistic view of markets experts might expect to be hampered or boosted by the health crisis.
She and her husband sold more than $110,000 in Facebook stock and shed $180,336 in shares of DocuSign, an online service used by landlords and other users to collect legally contractual signatures.
In addition to Ms Loeffler, Senators. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Dianne Feinstein of California, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, David Perdue of Georgia, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have also received scrutiny for their market transactions during roughly the same time period.