Georgia Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are two of the wealthiest individuals in Congress, with much of their wealth tied to stocks and investments after careers in the private sector.
Their portfolios became a subject of scrutiny during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic and have continued to attract attention during the general election.
Both senators, who have repeatedly said they have done nothing wrong, have since largely ended the practice of trading in stocks for individual companies except for businesses where they have personal ties. For example, Loeffler and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, still own stock in Intercontinental Exchange, the company he founded. Perdue retained ownership of stocks in three companies whose boards of directors he served on prior to being elected to the Senate.
The Senate Ethics Commission dismissed complaints filed against Loeffler, and both senators have said that the ethics panel, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice have cleared them of any wrongdoing. Those entities generally do not confirm or deny the existence of investigations unless there are findings to act upon, which can sometimes take months or years.
Democrats have criticized the stock trades by the two Republican senators, hoping the issue will resonate with voters. Loeffler and Perdue’s finances and stock trading remain a frequent focus of campaign ads as they compete in high-stakes runoff contests that will determine the balance of power in Washington. New revelations have continued since the November election as news organizations closely examine Georgia’s races. The Perdue campaign is running a television ad declaring that he has been “totally exonerated.”
Here is a timeline of what The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media organizations have reported about Perdue and Loeffler’s financial portfolios.
The Daily Beast is the first to report about Loeffler’s stock trading shortly after she attended a Jan. 24 briefing on the coronavirus. Although Loeffler received the most attention, Perdue’s trading during this period is also examined.
Loeffler files a new round of financial disclosures dated in February and March that detail millions of dollars in stocks sold on her behalf at the same time Congress was dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.
A review of financial disclosures filed by Perdue in late March showed that his stock trading increased in volume as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
Loeffler announces in the Wall Street Journal that she and her husband sold off the stock they own in individual companies except for the one founded by her husband. They invested in exchange-traded and mutual funds instead.
Loeffler refuses to answer questions about the financial advisers she said controlled her and her husband’s portfolio.
Intercontinental Exchange altered the parameters of Loeffler’s compensation package and allowed her to cash in on stock options even though she resigned months before the original vestment date, the New York Times reports.
The Intercept was the first to disclose an unusual agreement that Perdue had with a company whose board he once served on, Cardlytics, that allowed him to hold onto shares even after resigning from the position. The deal earned Perdue millions of dollars when the company went public several years later.
Perdue follows Loeffler’s lead and sold off most of the stock he owns in individual companies and instead puts most of his wealth in exchange-traded funds.
Loeffler’s office says she has supplied documentation of her stock trading to the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee and that it shows no laws or rules were broken.
Loeffler’s office confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice had closed its investigation into stock trades made on her behalf. The Wall Street Journal first reported this development.
The Senate Ethics Committee, after reviewing documentation from Loeffler, dismissed complaints from watchdog groups questioning whether she engaged in “potential insider trading.”
Perdue bought and sold shares in a financial technology company, First Data, that stood to benefit from a rollback of regulations he championed as a member of the Senate Banking Committee, according to the Daily Beast. The transactions were dated between June 2017 and April 2019.
Perdue faced questions about whether he used his position to try to secure tax breaks for pro sports owners and to boost a defense contractor in which he had purchased stock. Those allegations were outlined in separate reports by Pro Publica and the Daily Beast.
Legal experts interviewed by the Associated Press question the timing of Perdue’s stock trades during the pandemic, saying they warrant additional scrutiny.
A New York Times report about a federal investigation into Perdue’s trades during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic shows he authorized the sales of shares in Cardlytics. That ran contrary to his insistence for months that trading on his behalf was handled by financial advisors and without his input.
The New York Times scrutinized every stock trade Perdue reported during his first-term in office, a six-year span. It confirms he is the Senate’s most active trader by far with 2,596 total transactions.
Although both Perdue and Loeffler have repeatedly said the Senate Ethics Committee cleared them of wrongdoing, an AJC report found the panel almost never finds fault in members it investigates.
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Credit: Clayton County Police Department