GOP senator sold travel stock day before Trump's European travel ban

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Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler sold $46,027 worth of stock just days after buying it.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) sold $46,027 worth of online travel stock on the same day Donald Trump announced a ban on travel from Europe to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported on Friday

Loeffler had purchased the stock just days earlier.

The senator and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, purchased shares in Booking Holdings, which handles online travel booking, on March 6 — the same day she toured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with Trump for a coronavirus response update. On March 10 and 11, they sold the stock, just before Trump announced he was temporarily restricting travel from European countries.

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"These transactions are consistent with historical portfolio activity and include a balanced mix of buys and sells," a Loeffler spokesperson told Bloomberg Friday. "Her stock portfolio is managed independently by third-party advisors, and she is notified [afterward]."

Loeffler and her husband — CEO of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange — were already under fire for selling stocks after she received a confidential briefing on the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic on Jan. 24. That day, the duo began selling up to $3.1 million worth of stocks. They also invested in a teleworking software company.

Other senators, including Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina, are facing similar allegations that they violated the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which prohibits members of Congress from using nonpublic information for personal financial gain.

On Tuesday, Loeffler also disclosed that her husband purchased up to $415,000 in stock in DuPont de Nemours, a chemical company that makes protective equipment in high demand because of the pandemic.

Loeffler was appointed to the Senate by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in January to temporarily fill the seat of former Sen. Johnny Isakson who recently retired. Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R) is challenging her in the November special election for the remainder of Isakson's term.

Collins attacked Loeffler over the controversy on Monday, saying, "I am disgusted, but I can't say that I am surprised by the actions of Loeffler and those who would put their own interest above that of the American people."

The Securities and Exchange Commission warned on March 23 that "trading in a company’s securities on the basis of inside information may violate the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws."

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that the SEC and Justice Department are investigating whether the senators used non-public information about the coronavirus pandemic to make stock trades.

Loeffler has denied any wrongdoing.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.