Loeffler provides financial records in federal ethics probe, her office says

About the time U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler argued against the impeachment of President Donald Trump in early February, she and her husband sold off as much as $3.1 million in stocks after she participated in a private briefing for senators on the COVID-19 outbreak. This week the Wall Street Journal reported that the Department of Justice is no longer investigating her stock transactions.

Updated 8:45 on May 14 to include additional statement from Loeffler’s office.

WASHINGTON — Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler has turned over financial records to the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee, although it’s unclear if she did so voluntarily. 

Loeffler’s office had said earlier Thursday that her office had not been served a search warrant after reports surfaced that her U.S. Senate colleague was the subject of a federal insider trading investigation. 

North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr is leaving his post as Senate Intelligence Committee chairman after federal agents seized his cellphone Wednesday as part of an investigation into his stock trading. 

Critics allege that Burr broke the law by using nonpublic information about the threat posed by the virus when he dumped up to $1.7 million of stocks in February.

Loeffler has also faced a political firestorm after selling off stocks ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Georgia Republican senator has denied any wrongdoing. She has said her investment decisions are made by third-party advisers without her knowledge and that she didn’t know about the transactions until weeks later.

“Allegations of improper trading by Sen. Loeffler are completely false based on a political attack misrepresenting the facts to prey on the emotions of the American people as they endure the impact of a global pandemic,” a Loeffler’s office said in a statement to the Georgia Recorder Thursday afternoon. 

“No search warrant has been served on Sen Loeffler. She has followed both the letter and spirit of the law and will continue to do so.”

Later Thursday evening her office added details about the extent of the financial disclosure after news reports said she refused to say if she’d been contacted by the FBI.

“Senator Loeffler has forwarded documents and information to DOJ, the SEC, and the Senate Ethics Committee establishing that she and her husband acted entirely appropriately and observed both the letter and the spirit of the law. The documents and information demonstrated her and her husband’s lack of involvement in their managed accounts, as well the details of those accounts. Senator Loeffler has welcomed and responded to any questions from day one.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Thursday morning that Burr would step down from his chairmanship. 

“Senator Burr contacted me this morning to inform me of his decision to step aside as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee during the pendency of the investigation,” McConnell said in a statement. “We agreed that this decision would be in the best interests of the committee and will be effective at the end of the day tomorrow.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that agents had seized the North Carolina Republican’s cellphone Wednesday as part of a Justice Department investigation into stock sales he made ahead of the market drop caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Georgia Democrats said the Burr investigation should be a “wake up call” for Loeffler and her colleague, Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue, who also sold off some stocks ahead of the pandemic. 

“It’s time to start answering questions and stop blaming others for their stock trading scandals,” said Alex Floyd, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Georgians deserve answers, and this latest news clearly shows that if the Senators won’t provide them, law enforcement will.”

Media reports revealed that Loeffler and her husband sold off as much as $3.1 million in stocks after she participated in a private briefing for senators on the COVID-19 outbreak. 

They made 29 stock transactions from Jan. 24 — the day of the briefing — through mid-February. All but two of the transactions were sales, according to the Daily Beast, which broke the story.

Perdue also sold off as much as $770,000 in stock in February, the Associated Press reported. He also purchased shares in Disney and Delta, both of which took a hit as a result of the outbreak. In his nearly 100 transactions from late January through mid-February, he bought and sold in equal amounts, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the watchdog group Public Citizen, said Thursday that Burr’s resignation as chairman, “is rooted in political opportunism. Burr faces very serious allegations of self-dealing insider trading during the pandemic, which reflects very poorly not just on Burr himself but also the political party in which he has a leadership position.”

Holman said the uproar over the stock trades could impact Republicans’ electoral chances in November. “Voters are not likely to forget that while we lost much of our retirement savings in the stock market, Burr and Loeffler cashed in,” he said.