Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) said on CNBC Friday that she would agree to submit to an ethics review amid mounting public criticism of her stock market trades surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic. The comments came about the time an opponent called on her to resign.
“I’m happy to answer any and all questions and would submit to whatever review is needed … I think we have to make sure all the rules and laws are followed. I think they are being followed. At least in my case, I know they are. I can’t speak for other people. That’s certainly what securities law is for, that’s what ethics rules are for, that’s what I’m very confindent that we are complying with, have alwys complied with, and will continue to do,” Loeffler said.
The comments came after a bifurcated question which also asked whether members of Congress should be allowed to own individual stocks.
Loeffler said her level of access to secret “material, nonpublic” corporate informamtion was “low”: “we obviously cannot trade on” what information she and other members of Congress do have, she added.
Documents supplied by Loeffler indicate her spouse purchased a series of three Georgia government bonds on January 8th and 17th valued at between $100,000 and either $250,000 and $500,000 each. Loeffler and her spouse also sold an array of stocks belonging to companies such as Comcast, AutoZone, the corporate parent of TJ Maxx stores, Unilever, Chevron, Prudential Financial, Goldman Sachs, and Cisco between January 8th and January 31st. Between February 5th and February 14th, Loeffler and/or her husband sold stocks in Alfac, Caterpillar, Delta Air Lines, Merck, Honeywell, Comcast, AutoZone, Area Pharmaceuticals, Roku, O’Reilly Automotive, and Exxon Mobil. They made purchases in stock from Citrix Systems and Oracle on February 14th.
Loeffler took office Jan. 6th. She was appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to succeed Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), who resigned because of a series of health issues.
Loeffler’s husband is Jeffrey C. Sprecher, who is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.
On CNBC, Loeffler said she and her husband had “no involvement” with the decisions to buy or to sell, which she said were made by third-party investment advisors. “These were completely discretionary trades at the discretion of our investment managers.”
She went on to explain: “I don’t find out about these trades until these reprots are compiled at the end of the reporting period.” She said she would “continue to have no involvement” in her investment decisions and would adhere to the “letter and spirit” of the law. She said she had “no discretion” over what her independent portfolio managers do.
Loeffler said it was “inaccurate” to characterize the sales, which span many dates, as coming “the same day” she attended a Coronavirus briefing. She described her only individual activity as a “purchase” and said the individual trades were “bullish.”
She also said it wasn’t until the beginning of March that people started taking the Coronavirus seriously.
The Daily Beast reported that Loeffler and all other members of the Senate Health Committee attended a Coronavirus briefing on January 24th. The briefing was conducted by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is in charge of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The 2012 STOCK Act prohibits members of Congress or their staffs from trading on non-public information.
[Image via screen capture from CNBC]