ATLANTA — After weeks of criticism over profitable stock transactions made following a coronavirus briefing, Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler announced Wednesday she will liquidate her stock holdings and instead invest in mutual funds.
Loeffler made her announcement in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, where she blamed politics and the media for blowback over the transactions made for her by brokers after she attended a senators-only briefing on the coronavirus.
“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,” Loeffler wrote. “I’m doing it because the issue isn’t worth the distraction.”
A March 19 article on The Daily Beast website reported that Loeffler “sold off seven figures’ worth of stock holdings” in the weeks after Jan. 24. That day, the Senate Health Committee on which Loeffler sits was briefed about the coronavirus by administration officials, including CDC director Robert Redfield and Dr. Anthony Fauci. In Loeffler’s Wall Street Journal essay, she wrote that there was “no material or nonpublic information discussed” during the briefing.
Yet two days before that meeting, President Donald Trump dismissed coronavirus concerns, saying “we have it totally under control” and “it’s going to be just fine.” Trump continued to minimize the threat until mid-March, while other Republicans stayed mostly silent. Trump finally declared a national emergency on March 13.
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On Feb. 28, Loeffler tweeted: “Concerned about #coronavirus? Remember this: The consumer is strong, the economy is strong, & jobs are growing, which puts us in the best economic position to tackle #COVID19 & keep Americans safe.” She also tweeted that “Democrats have dangerously and intentionally misled the American people on #Coronavirus readiness.”
Meanwhile, stock purchases valued at as much as $500,000 were made for Loeffler. The purchases included shares in Citrix Systems, which provides software for working from home, and computer tech giant Oracle Corp. She also bought stock in a company that makes COVID-19 protectant clothing while selling stocks in retails stores like Lululemon and T.J. Maxx, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. All stock transactions were disclosed in public filings as required by law.
Loeffler emphasized in her Wall Street Journal essay that her and her husband’s investments are managed by third-party advisers who buy and sell stock for them. “We don’t direct trading in these accounts,” she wrote. Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.
“I knew when I started my campaign that our business success would become the target of attacks. That’s politics,” wrote Loeffler, who’s running in November against Trump loyalist Doug Collins to keep her Senate seat. “But these allegations go well beyond what should be considered acceptable.”
This article originally appeared on the Across Georgia Patch