Kelly Loeffler’s lucky streak raises questions

Junior Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia has had an extraordinary stroke of luck with winning stock trades that defy mathematical odds. 

Since joining the Senate in January Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, the chief executive officer of Intercontinental Exchange, parent firm of the New York Stock Exchange, have been actively and strategically dumping and buying stock.

 The trades are designed to shield them from major losses in industries hit by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic while potentially reaping millions in sectors that are thriving. Sprecher’s net worth exceeds $500 million according to industry estimates.

 Loeffler was sworn into the Senate on January 6, replacing retired Senator Johnny Isakson, and sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. It’s illegal for members of Congress to trade on non-public information obtained through their official duties.

Since the virus began to spread like wildfire across the U.S., the stock market has experienced historic volatility and many companies are suffering major losses.

Loeffler and her husband began unloading substantial portions of their portfolio beginning on Jan. 24 — the same day she sat in on a briefing from two members of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force. The private, all-senators briefing included Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Between that day and Feb. 14, the couple sold between $1.2 million and $3.1 million worth of shares. They also dumped more than $18 million worth of stock between February 26th and March 11th according to a Tuesday disclosure by Loeffler.

They first got rid of stock in Resideo Technologies valued at between $50,001 and $100,000. The company’s stock price has nosedived by more than 50 percent since then. They also purchased stock worth between $100,000 and $250,000 in Citrix, a technology company that offers teleworking software. Shares in the stock have increased since many Americans are forced to obey shelter-in-place orders in many states and are working from home offices.

Sprecher executed four transactions in late February and early March to purchase about $415,000 in DuPont stock. The company is currently producing COVID-19 protective garments which are in very high demand.

The couple also purchased up to $50,000 in Amazon stock, $250,000 in Chevron stock and $350,000 in CME stock, according to the mandatory disclosure. Stock market analyst for BOV News Melanie Richards called CME stock ‘unstoppable’ on Friday.

Richards noted that several hedge funds and institutional investors like Morgan Stanley Investment and Fidelity Management & Research have purchased millions of dollars worth of shares in CME in recent months. Amazon is also one of the few publicly traded companies weathering the pandemic as online orders for essential goods have skyrocketed.

The couple sold off between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of shares in DocuSign and up to $150,000 in Facebook stock. They also unloaded holdings in retail stores including Lululemon, TJ Maxx and Ross as economists predict widespread bankruptcies and a ‘retail apocalypse.’

Another transaction drawing scrutiny was Loeffler’s purchase of shares in Booking Holdings on March 6 jointly with her husband. It was done on the same day she visited the CDC in Atlanta with President Trump for a briefing on the spread of coronavirus across the country. The company helps customers with online bookings for travel services, flights and hotels.

Just days later, on March 10, Loeffler began unloading $46,027 worth of the company’s stock, one day before Trump’s announcement on March 11 that he was suspending travel from Europe to the United States for 30 days to slow the spread of COVID-19. Loeffler sold the rest of her stock in the company on that day.  The travel and airline industries have been heavily impacted after governments across the world were forced to issue stay-at-home orders to billions of people.

Loeffler told Fox News’ America’s Newsroom on March 20, “If you actually look at the personal transaction reports that were filed, it notices at the bottom that I’m only informed of my transactions after they occur — several weeks,” she said. “So, certainly, those transactions — at least on my behalf — were a mix of buys and sells. Very routine for my portfolio.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was the first to examine Loeffler’s mandatory disclosure.  Washington correspondent Tia Mitchell wrote Saturday, “U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler has provided no proof that financial advisers making stock transactions on her behalf have total control over decision-making.”

“The Georgia senator has been accused of using insider information procured from Senate briefings on the coronavirus to inform her recent stock trades. In response to the criticism, Loeffler says that financial consultants acting independently conduct all transactions on her behalf.

To this day, however, Loeffler has not provided details about how her portfolio is managed and who does that work. She won’t name her advisers or say what company they work for or disclose what kind of agreement she has with them.

Loeffler also has not said whether she or her husband, Jeff Sprecher, provided these consultants with general directions about how they want their money invested or if the advisers created an investment strategy policy for the couple.”

Her spokeswoman Kerry Rom told The Associated Press this week her stock portfolio is managed independently by third-party advisers, but many questions remain about the junior senator’s good fortune.