Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) insisted during a Friday morning Fox News appearance that it was “absolutely false” that she engaged in insider trading after she dumped millions in stocks following a Senate coronavirus briefing, prompting Fox News anchor Ed Henry to skeptically push back.
Following a Daily Beast report revealing that she sold up to $3.1 million worth of stocks between the Jan. 24 briefing and mid-February—right before the market began to plummet amid coronavirus fears—Loeffler was asked about a tweet she sent the day of the briefing preaching calm to the public.
“Did you leave that briefing with calm?” Henry wondered, causing the Georgia senator to say she believed the government was prepared while praising President Donald Trump’s early actions, such as a China travel ban.
“Senator, you thought the government was prepared,” the Fox anchor followed up. “After that tweet, you sold over $1 million in stocks before the market went down. Were you trading on inside information about what was coming?”
Loeffler denied that she did anything wrong, claiming that it was “absolutely false” that she engaged in violating the STOCK Act, which prevents lawmakers from trading on inside information.
“If you actually look at the personal transaction reports that were filed, it notices at the bottom I’m only informed after by transactions after they occurred, several weeks,” she added. “Those transactions, on my behalf at least, were a mix of buys and sells. Very routine for my portfolio.”
Henry, however, didn’t appear to buy what the senator was attempting to sell, noting that while her sales were before the stock market began its decline, her advisers also purchased shares in a teleconference company just before the time when more workers would soon need work-from-home technology.
“Who are these third-party advisers?” Henry pressed. “They seem to have a pretty good idea about where the market was headed.”
The Republican senator once again claimed ignorance, placing all the responsibility on her financial advisers while asserting she is “not involved in the decisions around buying and selling.”
After Loeffler boasted about her lengthy career in the financial services industry as a way to assure Fox viewers she would have complied with ethics rules, Henry pointed out that her husband is CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.
“Is there a conflict here since there were purchases that suggested you did well with some stocks while we have Americans across the country who have seen their 401Ks plummet?” Henry pushed back.
The Georgia lawmaker, meanwhile, tripled-down and said the transactions were “outsourced to third-parties” before pivoting to all the “around-the-clock” work she’s doing for the people of Georgia.
Loeffler was the second GOP senator found to have engaged in questionable stock sales and purchases after being briefed on the potential severity of the upcoming coronavirus pandemic. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) dumped up to $1.7 million in shares, including in hotels and resorts, just before the crash. While both senators dumped their stocks, they publicly downplayed the threats posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
The financial industry veteran, meanwhile, was not the preferred choice of Fox News opinion hosts to be Georgia senator. When Gov. Brian Kemp chose Loeffler as the replacement for the retiring Sen. Johnny Isaakson late last year, Sean Hannity directed his listeners to call Kemp and complain as he wanted Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) to get the seat.
Collins, who has already announced a primary challenge to Loeffler, took to Twitter on Friday morning to blast both Loeffler and Burr.
“People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements, and even their lives and Kelly Loeffler is profiting off their pain?” Collins tweeted. “I'm sickened just thinking about it.”