Sen. Kelly Loeffler sold off hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of stock in January after being briefed about the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) began a Monday conference call with business leaders by complaining about media headlines related to her recent stock-trading scandal.
"I just want to mention one thing since we're all together on a call," Loeffler said. "There's been some headlines — some very inaccurate, really, I guess I would just say hurtful headlines — about my portfolio activity."
Loeffler said that the allegations against her are "political in nature" and "false attacks."
Loeffler's "portfolio activity" included the sell-off of hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of stock in January after senators were briefed about the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
During the same period, her husband bought almost half a million dollars' worth of stock in DuPont de Nemours, a company that manufactures protective equipment needed by doctors and nurses fighting the pandemic.
Loeffler denied any wrongdoing, saying that her "career has been built on hard work and integrity around the financial services business. Because of the chance that you might come into contact with material nonpublic information, I do not transact in my own portfolio. Those are handled by third parties; have been for well over a decade."
The Securities and Exchange Commission issued a warning against insider trading the day after reports of stock sales by Loeffler and other public figures surfaced.
"'Hurtful' is publicly downplaying a looming health crisis while privately using privileged information to make money on the market," Zach Hudson, a spokesperson for American Bridge, said in a statement on Tuesday after the organization released the audio recording of Loeffler's comments. "If Loeffler can't handle being held accountable for her potentially illegal behavior, she should do as we said weeks ago and resign."
Loeffler made the comments on the same day that the death toll in the United States from the coronavirus crisis increased to more than 10,000 people.
In addition to Loeffler, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) also faces scrutiny after suspiciously timed stock sales in late January and early February. Burr, the lead Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and his wife sold up to $1.7 million worth of stocks after Burr was briefed about the coronavirus crisis.
Burr denied using inside information and requested a Senate ethics investigation into his actions.
Loeffler was appointed to her Georgia U.S. Senate seat in December following the resignation of Sen. Johnny Isakson, but faces a special election this November to keep the seat.
Another Republican, Rep. Doug Collins, is running for the seat.
Criticizing his primary opponent, Collins said on March 30, "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."
There will be no primary for this race. If no candidate gains more than 50% of the vote in November, there will be a runoff election in early January 2021.
Sen. David Perdue, Georgia's senior senator, is also up for reelection in November.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.