- The Washington Times
Friday, March 20, 2020

Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s stock trades before the coronavirus cratered the U.S. stock markets have quickly complicated her re-election effort.

Her top GOP opponent, Rep. Doug Collins, reminded Peach State voters of Ms. Loeffler’s dubious financial maneuvers via Twitter less than 24 hours after the trades were revealed.

“People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements, and even their lives and Kelly Loeffler is profiting off their pain?” Mr. Collins tweeted. “I’m sickened just thinking about it.”

Ms. Loeffler says she had no personal involvement in the trades, which were made Jan. 24 and involved her and her husband. The couple sold stocks that have dived and bought one that has risen slightly since the virus that emerged in Wuhan, China, went global and has wreaked havoc on financial markets worldwide. She said the moves were made by advisers and that she was not informed of them until mid-February, weeks after they were made.

She is one of at least four lawmakers reported to have sold large blocks of shares in the stock market at the same time most Washington officials were seeking to reassure Americans the coronavirus would not prove catastrophic. The contrast between their public positions and their sales, which saved them millions of dollars combined, has given rise to calls for their resignations and possible prosecution for insider trading.

The moves, which were included in personal financial reports lawmakers are required to file, were first reported by ProPublica and the Center for Responsive Politics. In addition to Ms. Loeffler, the politicians identified are Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. All have denied wrongdoing.

Ms. Loeffler took her seat in January after longtime Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson retired for health reasons. She was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who picked the wealthy businesswoman and WNBA owner over Mr. Collins, a vociferous ally of President Trump.

Since Mr. Kemp’s choice, the Republican establishment has largely fallen in behind Ms. Loeffler, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee throwing its full support behind her re-election bid. All potential challengers, and Mr. Collins in particular, were urged not to complicate the election. The NRSC has not been shy about attacking them since they chose to ignore the party’s wishes.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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