header image

ICYMI: Senators Loeffler, Perdue Unfairly Targeted by Media

ICYMI: SENATORS LOEFFLER, PERDUE UNFAIRLY TARGETED BY MEDIA

In case you missed it, the National Review published a story highlighting how Senator Loeffler and Senator Perdue are being unfairly targeted by the media, and how vastly different their situations are from Senator Richard Burr’s.

In the opening paragraph, the writer pens:

“Did multiple senators engage in insider trading when they sold stocks after being briefed on the threat of the coronavirus, but before the full extent of the threat was publicly known? The answer is not the same for every senator. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue appear to have been unfairly targeted by national and Atlanta media. Dianne Feinstein and Jim Inhofe likewise have reasonable explanations for their reported stock sales, as does Vermont representative Peter Welch. Senator Richard Burr, however, has some serious questions to answer, and has yet to offer a particularly persuasive defense.”

“Some critics inside and outside of Congress argue that this doesn’t go far enough, and senators and representatives shouldn’t hold individual stocks at all. They are probably right. Loeffler, the wealthiest member of the Senate, has announced in the aftermath of this controversy that she will be liquidating her entire stock portfolio and switching to mutual funds.”

“Loeffler cites a January 24 article on the briefing in The Hill, which quoted the committee’s top Democrat, Patty Murray, as saying of the federal response to the virus, “I think they have responded very well at this point.” In the same article, Murray’s fellow Democrat, Richard Blumenthal, expressed deeper alarm but remarked, “What I heard in response to many questions [in the briefing] is a tentative answer: Here’s what we know, but we need to know more.” Notably, the briefers “told senators they do not need more funding at the moment to fight the virus.” Speaking to reporters the same day, Dr. Fauci was — in retrospect — unduly optimistic:

‘I think the risk is very low right now for the United States. The thing that you need to be watching out for is sustained person-to-person transmission,” Fauci said. . . . Senators and Fauci also offered praise for China’s cooperation with U.S. officials. “I’m impressed,” Fauci said. “I was involved very deeply with the SARS response. And with SARS, the Chinese were not particularly transparent. . . . It was an embarrassment for them. I think they regretted that. Right now, from what I can see, they’re being quite transparent.’

There is no indication that Dr. Fauci gave a different message in the closed-door briefing from the one he delivered at the press briefing.”

“Circumstantial evidence of insider trading is most of what the media reports have focused on. Of course, savvy professionals were thinking about coronavirus risks to particular industries before many others were, so the fact that a well-heeled, professionally advised investor such as Loeffler was selling off some risk-exposed stocks in a fairly small portion of her portfolio is not surprising. A review by the Washington Post concluded that Loeffler sold about $1.8 million in stocks (a big number to most of us, but not to a couple worth half a billion dollars), while her “husband was making bullish moves at the same time, betting that the market would go up a few months later,” including buying $1.679 million in “‘puts’ that would benefit him if the stocks rose and risked big losses if the market crashed.” That hardly seems like a pattern of profiteering that would be worth risking for someone as wealthy as Loeffler, who intends to spend many multiples of $1.8 million campaigning for re-election. Perdue’s pattern of purchases and sales is, as Erick Erickson has explained, not consistent with being tipped off to the coming coronavirus crisis: He was buying stock in Starbucks, Delta, Disney, and concert promoter LiveNation while selling Kroger, Clorox, and Proctor & Gamble.”

“We have likely not heard the last of this story. Unless there is significant new evidence, however, none of the participants other than Burr should have much to worry about legally.”

###

Caitlin O’Dea
Press Secretary
[email protected]
(770) 876-1696