Senate ethics panel drops inquiry into Loeffler stock trades

The Senate Ethics Committee found no evidence of wrongdoing by Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia after investigating stock trades she made weeks before the coronavirus caused markets to plunge.

Loeffler received a letter from the committee Tuesday, saying it has dismissed its inquiry into complaints alleging insider-trading by the newly appointed senator and her husband.

“Based on all the information before it, the Committee did not find evidence that your actions violated federal law, Senate Rules, or standard of conduct,” said the letter by Deborah Sue Mayer, the committee’s chief counsel.

Last month, the Justice Department closed its own investigation into Loeffler’s stock trades.

“The Senate Ethics Committee has come to the exact same conclusion as the U.S. Department of Justice: Senator Loeffler did absolutely nothing wrong and has been completely exonerated,” Loeffler’s office said in a statement. It called the allegations “unfounded and unsubstantiated attacks.”

Scrutiny over her stock trades had dogged Loeffler since March. She joined the Senate in January, an appointment that forced Loeffler to immediately run for election in November. Georgia’s special election rules mean she will face opponents from both parties on the same ballot. They include GOP Rep. Doug Collins, a close ally of President Donald Trump, and Democrat Raphael Warnock, pastor of the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached.

Financial reports required by the Senate show Loeffler and her husband dumped substantial portions of their portfolio and purchased new stocks around the time Congress was receiving briefings on the seriousness of the pandemic. The scrutinized trades included buying between $166,000 and $415,000 in shares of DuPont de Nemours, a chemical company manufacturing protective equipment in exceedingly high demand because of the pandemic.

Loeffler has said the accounts were managed by third-party advisers. Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler worked as an executive for the exchange’s parent company, Intercontinental Exchange, before her appointment to the Senate.