Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler’s husband bought over $1 million in stocks which were likely to soar as a result of the pandemic relief bill, days before the details of that bill was made public, it has emerged.
Jeffrey Sprecher, chair of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, had been selling stocks since
Loeffler and several other senators – two
Sprecher’s selling spree continued until the middle of March, when he dramatically changed course,
Kelly Loeffler, with husband Jeffrey Sprecher, is the wealthiest senator in the U.S.
Loeffler is pictured with her husband, being sworn in by Mike Pence on January 6, 2020
In April he and his wife sold their individual stocks, and it was unclear how much money had been made from his mid-March trades.
Senators report stock sales within dollar ranges, making it impossible to say precisely how much the couple made.
But Sprecher bought over $1 million in stock which would benefit, analysts said, from the CARES Act – a $2 trillion emergency stimulus package, which was signed into law on March 27.
The terms of the CARES Act were still mostly a secret, but were known primarily to Republican senators while members of their party crafted the legislation.
Sprecher managed to invest in several industries – insurance and energy – that were poised to take advantage of the bill’s very specific provisions.
He purchased between $250,000 and $500,000 in shares in Assurant, a financial giant that sells life, catastrophe and property insurance.
Sprecher purchased between $250,000 and $500,000 in shares in financial firm Assurant
The investor purchased up to $650,000 in insurance companies such as AIG
With energy prices lowered by the pandemic, Sprecher bought up to $250,000 in Chevron
In addition, on the same days as a series of closed-door Senate meetings to thrash out the details of the CARES Act, Loeffler’s husband purchased up to $650,000 worth of stock in insurance companies like AIG, Prudential Financial and Assurant.
The companies were well-placed to benefit from a complicated corporate tax scheme written in to the CARES Act.
He also purchased stocks in the energy sector, which was fortuitous because the CARES Act was designed to get the economy moving, and keep the wheels turning. The price of oil had plummeted in the early days of the pandemic, as planes were grounded and industry ground to a halt, and rose after the CARES Act.
Loeffler’s husband bought up to $250,000 in Chevron stock.
In April, facing public pressure about their pre-pandemic selling spree, Loeffler and Sprecher announced they would liquidate all of their individual stock holdings.
Loeffler, who is currently battling to keep her seat ahead of a January 5 run-off, has faced strong questions from her Democrat challenger, Raphael Warnock, about her trades.
Warnock has made accusations that she uses her seat for personal enrichment a constant theme of his attacks.
Loeffler and her husband are worth $800 million, according to
Loeffler is pictured on stage with Donald Trump at her campaign rally in Georgia on Saturday
In a tense debate with Warnock on Sunday night, she refused to say that senators should be banned from trading individual stocks, instead suggesting that criticism of such trades was ‘an attack on the American dream.’
‘The appearance of conflict is terrible for maintaining the public’s trust in government,’ said Kedric Payne, general counsel to the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan government watchdog.
‘There’s a reason all our ethics rules focus on the appearance of there being conflict of interest: because perception is reality.
‘It’s really difficult to maintain credibility when your constituents don’t know if you’re focused on their interests or your own financial interests.’
Payne said Loeffler needed to answer for the trades.
‘It’s definitely not clear there is insider training here, but one thing for certain is the senator owes the public an explanation of these suspiciously timed trades.’
Loeffler said this spring that before she and her husband divested from individual stocks, any individual trades were made by a third party who informed them afterward.
An FBI inquiry into her pre-pandemic selloff ended without criminal charges. Loeffler said she provided records to the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee that showed her lack of day-to-day involvement in her and her husband’s investment accounts.
‘I’ve been completely exonerated,’ she said in Sunday’s debate.
Her campaign has not responded to The Huffington Post’s report.
Federal law ― including the Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 ― prohibits members of Congress from trading on the information they come across in their line of work.
But it is entirely legal for them to buy and sell stocks, or even to vote on legislation that may enrich them.
Executive branch officials are discouraged from holding individual stocks and rarely do.