Tags: Coronavirus | kelly loeffler | fauci | doug collins | georgia | stock sales | virus

Georgia Sen. Loeffler Under Fire for Stock Sales After Virus Briefing

senator kelly loeffler
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., shown the day after a Jan. 24 coronavirus briefing. (Julio Cortez/AP)

By Tuesday, 24 March 2020 06:10 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., is catching heat in her home state over allegations of insider trading stemming from several stock transactions made after a January briefing about the coronavirus.

Three days after the stock transactions by four senators who attended the briefing with Trump administration officials were reported by The New York Times, it's clear that Loeffler is experiencing the most severe political repercussions.

Appointed to fill a vacancy in the Senate at the end of 2019, Loeffler is married to Jeffrey Sprecher — the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. They began selling stock on Jan. 24, the same day several senators listened to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and other officials grappling with the virus as it made its way across the world en route to the United States.

According to several reports, the couple made as much as $3.1 million selling stocks between Jan. 24 and mid-February.

"Sickened" is how Loeffler's Republican rival for the Senate, Rep. Doug Collins, described his reaction to the reports that Loeffler made millions after acquiring inside information about the impending virus panic — which has resulted in massive losses on Wall Street.

"People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements and even their lives," Collins tweeted, "and Kelly Loeffler is profiting off their pain? I'm sickened just thinking about it."

"The optics certainly don't help Senator Loeffler or any other lawmaker who sold large amounts of stock just before the coronavirus crisis broke nationally," onetime Augusta Chronicle editor Phil Kent told Newsmax.

Kent added, however, "The senators all have their portfolios in blind trusts. There must be proof offered if any member of Congress engaged in illegal behavior. Also, Americans really aren't paying attention to politics now."

Under Peach State election law, Collins and Loeffler won't meet at the polls until November. That's when they and several Democrats will be on the same ballot in the special election to replace the retired Sen. Johnny Isakson. Should no candidate win a majority, a runoff election between the top two vote-getters regardless of party would be held in January.

A solid conservative as well as a close ally and friend of President Donald Trump, the four-termer Collins made it clear he wanted to be appointed to Isakson's seat last year. When Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced in December he was naming Loeffler, Collins indicated that wild horses could not keep him out of the November election to fill the remainder of Isakson's term.

According to a University of Georgia poll conducted among likely voters just before the story of Loeffler's stock sales broke, Collins held a slim lead over Loeffler, 21% to 19%.

Businessman Matt Lieberman, the son of former Sen. and 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, drew 11% in the same poll. Trailing were two black Democrats: Raphael Warnock, pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, with 6%, and former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver at 4%.

Veteran Georgia political consultant Matt Towery pointed out that "there is so much overwhelming people right now I doubt the story [about Loeffler's stock sales] will penetrate. But it clearly will be an issue by November. The facts around it are unclear, so I think how she explains it will be critical as to whether she survives this issue.

"It certainly is not helpful since she does not have a deep connection with voters, being so new to the job."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., is catching heat in her home state over allegations of insider trading stemming from several stock transactions made after a January briefing about the coronavirus.
kelly loeffler, fauci, doug collins, georgia, stock sales, virus
Tuesday, 24 March 2020 06:10 AM
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