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Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Photo: Madnel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher are liquidating their stock portfolio and moving holdings into exchange traded funds (ETFs) after coming under fire for purchasing and selling roughly $1.4 million in stock just before the market crashed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Loeffler, who faces a competitive reelection fight in November, is one of several senators under fire for selling shares shortly after a private briefing on the coronavirus — sparking accusations of insider trading.

Details: In an op-ed published Wednesday, Loeffler wrote that, despite fully complying with the law, she decided to liquidate her accounts and move them to ETFs to "end the distractions" caused by the sell-off.

  • Her Senate campaign told Axios that Loeffler's opponents "are clearly using her stock portfolio as a political weapon for an assault on her character during a national crisis," and they saw this as the best way to shut down the "untrue" accusations of improper trading.
  • The campaign also said that the Jan. 24 Senate briefing "did not disclose any material or nonpublic information."

What they're saying: The campaign explains Loeffler's investments are managed by third-party advisors at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Sepio Capital and Wells Fargo, and neither Loeffler nor her husband — the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange — direct trading in these accounts.

  • “As longtime executives at a Fortune 500 financial-services firm, my husband and I put this arrangement in place to insulate ourselves and our colleagues from these sorts of unfounded accusations,” Loeffler said.
  • “I’m not doing this because I have to. I’ve done everything the right way and in compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, Senate ethics rules and U.S. law. I’m doing it because the issue isn’t worth the distraction,” she added.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Felix Salmon: Stocks have risen about 20% from their lows, in a move that doesn't seem to reflect economic fundamentals. Loeffler's liquidation is consistent with her earlier stock sales, in that it will turn out to be profitable in the event of future stock market declines.

The big picture: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler, formerly a business executive, in December to fill the seat vacated by GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson.

  • On Nov. 3, Loeffler will face off with Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee during impeachment and a loyal defender of president, for the Senate seat.

Read Loeffler's full statement:

I have not profited or attempted to profit at any time based on my service in the Senate. This story was manufactured by a left-wing website, never fact checked and used as a weapon by the media and my political opponents as a baseless attack. There is no truth to any of it.

Our family’s investments have long been managed by outside investment advisors at Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Sepio Capital, and Wells Fargo. They make their investment decisions for our accounts, including buying and selling securities like stocks and options —without our input, direction or knowledge.

For my over-20-year career in the financial services industry—as well as since I’ve been in the Senate—I have done everything according to the spirit and the letter of the law, and have been recognized for my integrity, professionalism and hard work.

Amid this health crisis, the temptation to circulate lies and misinformation is too great for the media and my political opponents. That is why I’m taking steps to remove this temptation so that we can turn our focus back to where it belongs: on combating COVID-19 and restoring our country to health and economic recovery.

All of the individual stock and options holdings in these managed accounts will be liquidated by the investment managers and the proceeds will be reinvested into ETFs and mutual funds.

Let me be clear: I do not have to do this. I’ve done everything at or above the requirements for complying with the STOCK Act, SEC regulations, Senate Ethics rules, and US law, and of course, will continue to do so.

I’m doing this because this transparency is being abused for political gain, and the steps I’ve taken to distance myself from these accounts are being ignored. I left the private sector to serve the people of Georgia, not make a profit, and in fact donate my Senate pay to Georgia charities.

I believe Georgians can see with my results in just three months in the Senate that my focus is on delivering results for them, and delivering relief for those impacted by COVID-19. As an outsider, I came to get results and I won’t let politics get in the way of public service and keeping our state and our country strong.

Go deeper: Lawmakers come under scrutiny for stock sales

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
9 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.

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