Campaign check: Warnock accuses Loeffler of ‘dumping stock’

January 5, 20201 Atlanta - Senator Kelly Loeffler leaves after she spoke to her supporters during an Election Night Party for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Buckhead on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. (Hyosub Shin /



January 5, 20201 Atlanta - Senator Kelly Loeffler leaves after she spoke to her supporters during an Election Night Party for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Buckhead on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. (Hyosub Shin /

The statement:

Sen. Kelly Loeffler “immediately” started “dumping stocks” after a confidential Senate briefing in January about the coronavirus. –Rev. Raphael Warnock ad, Nov. 12

What we found:

Since February, Sen. Kelly Loeffler has been scrutinized for a large sell-off of personal stock holdings after she received a private Senate briefing about the coronavirus pandemic on Jan. 24, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported.

The negative attention continued throughout the pandemic and into Loeffler’s special election campaign against her Democratic opponent, the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Her trading activity is the focus of a Warnock ad released in November that questions her timing and public comments. Since Loeffler’s trading activity came to light in March, she has been investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Senate Ethics Committee, which said it found no violations, which was widely reported.

“On Jan. 6, billionaire Kelly Loeffler is sworn into office, and over the next 18 days, doesn’t make a single stock transaction,” the ad said. “Then Loeffler receives a confidential briefing on the threat of coronavirus and immediately starts dumping stocks.”

The ad correctly sets the timeline, noting the date of the private, senators-only briefing on Jan. 24. Because Loeffler was confirmed as a senator in 2020, her financial disclosures only reveal her stock trading history from the beginning of the year. The ad is also correct in pointing out that her account’s first trades of the year happened on Jan. 24.

“Loeffler has said that the meeting included no private information and that all stock trading on her behalf is handled by financial advisers who act independently and without her input,” the AJC reported in June.

AJC Senate Watch: Checking candidates’ claims, answering readers’ questions

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Warnock’s ad claims that Loeffler sold $3.1 million in stock, which is inaccurate according to financial records Loeffler supplied to the AJC. Traditionally, senators disclose their stock trades in ranges rather than exact figures, and the range of Loeffler’s stock sales ran between $1.3 million and $3.1 million.

Loeffler’s records, published by the AJC, show that she sold closer to $2 million worth of stocks while spending more than $300,000 on new purchases. Warnock’s ad does not use the most accurate numbers, but Loeffler’s trading patterns point to a sell-off of stocks prior to the market cratering, as the AJC previously reported.

Warnock’s ad asserts that Loeffler is a billionaire, but the source of that claim isn’t clear. She and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, are estimated to be worth up to $800 million by Forbes. Sprecher is the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the Georgia-based company that owns the New York Stock Exchange and other financial marketplaces.

Loeffler easily falls into the top 1% of household net worth, as illustrated by the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. In late February and early March, the couple sold nearly $19 million in ICE stock, the AJC previously reported. Loeffler was formerly an executive at ICE. Her campaign said the sales were stock options exercised as part of the couple’s executive compensation package.

After the outcry over the trades, Loeffler and Sprecher divested nearly all of their individual stock holdings, directing their financial advisers to invest in mutual funds instead, the AJC has reported. Their only individual holdings remain in ICE stock.

The second half of Warnock’s ad highlights Loeffler’s public comments at the beginning of the pandemic. While Loeffler was liquidating stocks in January and February, she praised President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic and publicly painted an optimistic picture of the economy, the AJC reported. In mid-February, she tweeted multiple times about the nation’s “booming economy” and frequently praised Trump.

Warnock’s ad does not make any direct accusations. Instead, it lays out the timeline of the private Senate briefing and Loeffler’s stock trades, then contrasts her account activity with her public comments. The ad does contain inaccuracies, including the amount of stock she sold, but mostly relies on a narrative that has been reported in the AJC and many other news outlets.

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