The Worst of Washington: Georgia Senators downplayed pandemic, helped block aid for Georgians suffering, but profited themselves
Loeffler missed half of her assigned coronavirus committee hearings…
Recently the Daily Beast revealed Perdue is now involved in a third separate insider trading scandal.
Georgia Senators Loeffler and Perdue have a history of downplaying the economic and public health impacts of the coronavirus while seeking to personally profit from it. Both Senators have denied using confidential information to inform their stock trades and the Senate Ethics Committee found that neither broke any federal law, but on the very day these Senators were first privately briefed about the potential impact and spread of the virus in January, both reportedly started making moves to ensure their personal fortunes would grow. They abandoned companies that would likely suffer and invested in those would likely gain. Embracing the worst of Washington corruption, their first instinct was to protect their wealth not the health of Georgians and the American people. According to reports, they seem to have bet on Georgians dying in the short term to make long term profit.
As cases spike exponentially, Georgia has been devastated by the Coronavirus, with 415,000 cases, 8,800 deaths, 106 percent of the February unemployment rate, and small businesses that have been the backbone of the state closing by the hundreds. The Black community in Georgia has been disproportionately affected on every front, even as Georgia’s Senators have profiteered off of the crisis. Nearly 150,000 Georgians stand to lose unemployment insurance benefits at the end of December because Perdue and Loeffler have been blocking aid to small businesses and unemployed people.This is after Perdue and Loeffler stood in the way of raising the minimum wage in Georgia to $15 — something that would have given 1.575 million Georgians a raise.
They recognized and allegedly capitalized on the havoc the pandemic could wreak personally, yet repeatedly downplayed the virus to constituents, missed Senate hearings with public health experts, praised Trump’s inept response, and joined McConnell’s move to delay additional coronavirus relief measures that passed the House in May.
On top of it all, they voted a combined 11 times to repeal protections in the Affordable Care Act, and have both consistently supported taking health care away from 461,000 Georgians and stripping protections for 4.4 million Georgians with pre-existing conditions.
How they downplayed coronavirus and what they said about blocking aid.
- Loeffler missed half of the COVID related Senate HELP Committee hearings. Loeffler sits on the Senate HELP Committee which is responsible for overseeing the federal government’s public health response to the pandemic. This committee heard from the government’s top public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Robert Redfield, the CDC Director. The hearings covered vaccine developments, plans to control the spread, and gave Senators an opportunity to ask questions about what has gone well and what has not. She missed five of the ten, a full half of the COVID related hearings the Senate HELP Committee held this year. [CAP Action Analysis, 11/14/2020]
- Loeffler said voting by mail during a pandemic is rooted in ‘conspiracy theories.’ “My only concern about elections in this country are the liberal Democrats attempting to call our election integrity into question and trying to push a universal mail-in voting system — which has the potential for massive fraud. Under my watch, we’ll never switch to a universal vote-by-mail system — and we’ll keep fighting back against Democrats like Stacey Abrams who are using conspiracy theories about our elections to undermine confidence at the ballot box and excuse their impending losses in November.” [Atlanta Journal Constitution pre-election questionnaire]
- Loeffler supported McConnell’s delay for new coronavirus relief including the HEROES Act, which passed the House in May with bipartisan support. “The Democrats’ coronavirus stimulus package was a wasteful blue state bailout designed to advance Nancy Pelosi’s radical liberal agenda. The $3 trillion slush fund would give direct payment checks to illegal immigrants, fund abortions with taxpayer dollars, enable radical election reform, and dedicate millions for frivolous pet projects. On top of all that, the bill would bankroll reckless states like California and New York and punish the responsible taxpayers here in Georgia. [Atlanta Journal Constitution pre-election questionnaire]
- Perdue said the coronavirus was no worse than a bad flu season and compared the public’s risk to that of driving a car on a call with business leaders. [Vox, 5/19/2020]
- Perdue: ‘Things in Georgia are going as well as can be expected.’ Perdue said in July, after 3,000 Georgians had died from coronavirus and nearly 120,000 had become infected, that things in Georgia are going as well as can be expected.” [CNBC, 7/15/2020]
- In March, Perdue assured Georgians that Trump and the Vice President have done a ‘great job of educating people on how to protect themselves.’ During the same interview, Perdue said the “risk still remains low” and “we’re hopeful this thing will burn itself out before we see a dramatic increase in the numbers hers.”[WDAK, 3/11/2020]
- Perdue on Trump’s handling of the coronavirus…’we’ve done everything we could do.’ When asked a question about whether he was concerned about Trump’s handling of the crisis, Perdue said: “No, I think, given the uncertainty that we had at the very beginning, we’ve done everything we could. Right now he sees declaring Covid-19 as the enemy. We’re not fighting among ourselves. We’re all together: Democrats (and) Republicans should be fighting this virus.” [CNN, 7/27/2020]
- Perdue called additional unemployment relief a “hindrance.” [Bloomberg, 7/16/2020]
Georgia layoffs and shutdowns
- Coca-Cola cutting thousands of jobs in major reorganization. “The cuts pose more challenges for metro Atlanta, which suffered massive job losses earlier this year. While the region added thousands of jobs in July, it still had about 200,000 fewer jobs than at the end of last year.” [AJC, 8/28/2020]
- ‘80% of metro Atlanta’s hotel workers have been laid off over COVID-19, experts say.’ [WSBTV, 10/21/2020]
- ‘30% of Georgia restaurants to close over pandemic.’ [WSBTV, 10/14/2020]
- ‘Nearly 500 Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines pilots face furloughs.’ [BizJournals, 10/23/2020]
- Jacobson Warehouse Company cuts 175 jobs. [AJC, 7/9/2020]
- The Weather Company, which runs Weather Underground and Weather.com, based in Georgia lays off dozens stops blog. “The Weather Company, which operates the popular websites Weather.com and Weather Underground, and offers forecast and weather graphics services to many industries, has slashed dozens of jobs, part of a wave of large-scale layoffs imposed by its parent company, IBM.” [Washington Post, 6/10/2020]
Perdue and Loeffler’s financial moves made clear they looked to profit off of the virus.
On January 24th, the same day Senators Loeffler and Perdue attended a closed-door coronavirus briefing for Senators, both started making moves in the stock market that would personally benefit their bank accounts. The trades involved companies the virus would drastically impact, which their financial disclosures showed they benefited from. Both senators claim these well-timed trades happened without their knowledge and were completed by third party financial advisers. You can find a complete list of both Senators’ transactions on and after the date of the private briefing here and some highlights are below:
- Combined, the Georgia Senators sold somewhere between $32.8 million and $125.8 million worth of stocks in the four months after receiving their closed door coronavirus briefing. They’ve only made a handful of transactions since May. [U.S. Senate Financial Disclosures, Accessed 11/17/2020]
- Both purchased stock in DuPont de Nemours, Inc., a company that specializes in PPE manufacturing, early in the year. Perdue purchased the stock on January 24th, the same day he received the closed-door coronavirus briefing from government officials. [U.S. Senate Financial Disclosures, Accessed 11/17/2020, AJC, 4/6/2020]
- Loeffler and her husband offloaded nearly $50,000 worth of stock in an online travel company in the days leading up to Trump’s European travel ban. On March 10th and 11th they sold over $46,000 worth of stock in Booking Holdings, a company that specializes in online booking of hotels, flights and other travel related services; some financial experts call the trades unusual. [Bloomberg, 4/2/2020]
- Loeffler and her husband bought stock in two tech companies Citrix, a tech company that specializes in telework, and Oracle, another tech company, on February 14th. The purchase was made on February 14th and they sold it on April 7th making profit of over $30,000. [U.S. Senate Financial Disclosures, Accessed 11/17/2020, Yahoo Finance, accessed 11/17/2020]
- In mid February, Loeffler and her husband sold up to $500,000 worth of stock in Exxon Mobil, avoiding losses. The oil and gas industry has been one of the hardest hit by the virus. [USA Today, 4/8/2020]
- Perdue sold $165,000 worth of Caesar’s Entertainment stock, a casino company hard hit by the pandemic, in February. [AP, 3/20/2020]
- In February and March, Perdue bought shares in companies that would stand to benefit from the pandemic like Netflix and Pfizer; he purchased up as much as $310,000 in these two stocks. [U.S. Senate Financial Disclosures, Accessed 11/17/2020]
Even Prominent Conservatives Brutally Condemned Loffler’s Apparent Corruption
- Rep. Collins responded to the news of Loeffler’s stock trades by saying, “I’m sickened just thinking about it.” His full response: “People are losing their jobs, their businesses, their retirements, and even their lives and Kelly Loeffler is profiting off their pain? I’m sickened just thinking about it.” [Collins Tweet, 3/20/2020]
- Republican rival Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) considered Loeffler an “inside trader profiteer” with a devoted website outlining the evidence. One section of the site was labeled “Profiting off of People’s Pain.” [TheRealKellyLoeffler.com via WayBackMachine, capture from 5/28/2020]
- Tucker Carlson said Loeffler ‘should leave office’ if she knew of controversial stock trades and claimed all was well. [Fox News, 4/2/2020]