Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who has been scrutinized for stock trades she made after a private briefing on the coronavirus, hung on to millions in corporate securities, her most recent financial filing shows.
The Georgia Republican holds between $5 million and $25 million in Intercontinental Exchange Inc., or ICE, corporate securities stock, a company led by her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher. Loeffler — who receives equity compensation from ICE — made between $1 million and $5 million in capital gains and dividends from her ICE holdings, her filing shows. Sprecher, who also chairs the New York Stock Exchange, has at least $10 million in ICE securities stock and options.
ICE is the company that owns stock exchanges and suppliers of market data. This includes businesses involved in global securities, futures and options trading, making them a crucial underpin of financial market infrastructure.
On April 8, Loeffler pledged in The Wall Street Journal that she and her family would sell their “holdings in managed accounts,” which doesn’t include executive compensation not held at an asset management firm — such as ICE holdings. Loeffler’s report, filed Monday, is a rundown of financial assets that is required by law for new members. It shows that she has yet to divest of ICE.
The subhead in The Wall Street Journal reads: “But to end the distraction, my family will divest from individual stocks.”
Loeffler wrote in the body of the piece: “Although Senate ethics rules don’t require it, my husband and I are liquidating our holdings in managed accounts and moving into exchange-traded funds and mutual funds. I will report these exiting transactions in the periodic transaction report I file later this month.”
Loeffler made $3.58 million as a member of the executive leadership team at ICE, and as CEO of Bakkt LLC, a subsidiary of ICE. Both Loeffler and her husband receive stock compensation from ICE.
“I’m letting what she has said speak for itself,” said Stephen Lawson, Loeffler’s spokesperson, when asked about the apparent differences between the subhead and the body of the senator’s opinion piece.
Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen, said that in order to fulfill her pledge, Loeffler should divest herself of ICE.
“ICE stocks do not qualify as a diverse mutual fund. It is a single company, based largely on the fortunes of the banking and investment industries. In fact, when it comes to Loeffler, it is a family corporation,” Holman said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “Maintaining investments in ICE is not in compliance with Loeffler’s pledge to divest from individual stocks. ICE stocks pose the exact same conflicts of interest posed by Loeffler’s other individual stock investments. She is banking on the bank and investment industries, not the well-being of the economy as a whole.”
“The fact that Sen. Loeffler and her husband still own such a significant amount of stocks in the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange is troubling at best,” said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a policy analyst at the Project on Government Oversight. “Even if there has been no conflict of interest or impropriety throughout the revelations surrounding these transactions, the appearance of these kinds of conflicts is problematic on its own. There is a simple answer to all of this, which would improve the American public’s view of corruption in Washington: All members of Congress should be required to place their financial assets into a blind trust for the duration of their time in office.”
She has unloaded a significant portion of her individual stocks over the past year — numbering in the hundreds — including Abbott Laboratories stock options, a company that offers COVID-19 tests. She made between $6,000 and $12,500 in capital gains from the company. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., mentioned Abbott on Monday in an interview with Politico as a company that could offer coronavirus tests for members at the Capitol complex.
Loeffler started selling off assets on Jan. 24, the same day White House officials briefed the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee about the coronavirus. Loeffler went on to sell over $1 million in stock, according to The Daily Beast. Millions more in her stock sales emerged, according to a report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Loeffler, who was appointed to fill the seat of Republican Johnny Isakson and took office this year, faces a special election for that seat in November. She has reserved about $4 million in advertising in Georgia that pushes back on criticism on the stock transactions, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The junior senator’s most recent filing also provides insight into her family’s vast wealth. She lists a jointly owned secondary residence in Boca Raton, Fla., valued at between $5 million and $25 million. Sprecher also owns a jet hangar in Atlanta, valued at over $1 million.