Apr 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Loeffler traded $1.4 million in stock during coronavirus pandemic

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, purchased and sold about $1.4 million in stock during the market panic set off by the coronavirus pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Though the couple still lost money, they were able to limit the financial blow from the stock market's worst month since October 2008.

Details: Loeffler reported that she and her husband bought $590,000 worth of stock and sold about $845,000 from Feb. 18 through March 13, according to WSJ's review of the senator’s financial disclosure.

  • If they held the shares they sold until March 31, they would have been valued at $86,000 less than what they sold them for.
  • The stocks they bought declined after they purchased them and resulted in losses of $102,000 through March 31.

Loeffler and her husband sold stocks in retail stores, such as Lululemon and T.J. Maxx, and invested a company that makes COVID-19 protective garments for medical workers, according to a review by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Of note: Sprecher is the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange.

What they're saying: Loeffler has maintained that she did nothing wrong and that she and her husband do not have control over day-to-day trades, which are managed by third-party advisers.

  • “Sen. Loeffler came to Washington on a promise to be a different kind of elected official,” a spokesperson told the AJC.
  • “She holds herself to high standards of ethics and transparency, including acting in accordance with both the letter and spirit of the law, which she has done at every step of her time in the Senate and in her lengthy career in financial services.”

The big picture: Loeffler, who was appointed to her Senate seat by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp after the retirement of Sen. Johnny Isakson, is running in a special election this year to keep her seat. Her Republican rival, Rep. Doug Collins, has used the appearance of impropriety from the stock trades to attack the senator.

  • “To have sold and then bought stocks that benefit them personally is just very, very frustrating,” Collins told Politico. "And it's very disheartening for those of us who have been in public service."
  • Several senators came under fire for making large stock trades while President Trump downplayed the severity of the outbreak. The SEC and the Justice Department are reportedly investigating at least one lawmaker's activities.

Go deeper: Senate Intel chair sold up to $1.6 million in stock before market crash

Go deeper

DOJ closes insider trading probes of 3 senators, but not Richard Burr

Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Photo: Toni L. Sandys-Pool/Getty Images

The Justice Department is closing its inquiries into stock selloffs by Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that occurred after the lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

The big picture: The investigation into trades by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who stepped down as chair of Senate Intelligence Committee pending the results of the inquiry, is reportedly continuing. Burr's cell phone was seized by the FBI earlier this month.

Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next

Zipline's drone drops medical supplies via parachute. Image courtesy of Zipline.

Zipline, a California drone company, has made its U.S. debut by delivering medical supplies to hospitals in North Carolina under a pilot program honed in Africa.

Why it matters: The effort, made possible by a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to Novant Health, is the nation's longest-range drone delivery operation and could demonstrate how drones could be used in future pandemics, Zipline officials said.

NHL unveils 24-team playoff plan to return from coronavirus hiatus

Data: NHL; Table: Axios Visuals

The NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan on Tuesday, formally announcing that 24 of its 31 teams will return for a playoff tournament in two hub cities, if and when medically cleared.

Why it matters: Hockey is the first major North American sports league to sketch out its plans to return from a coronavirus-driven hiatus in such detail, and it's also the first one to officially pull the plug on its regular season, which will trigger ticket refunds.