March 22, 2020 Press Releases
Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of NYSE Parent Company, Sold $3.5 Million in Holdings on February 26 - A Transaction Initiated Two Days After Senator-Only Briefing on Coronavirus
Good Government Group's Chief Ethics Counsel: 'It's Appalling'
A new report reveals Senator Kelly Loeffler's husband also sold millions of dollars in stock holdings ahead of the coronavirus outbreak - but did not disclose those transactions. The CEO of the parent company that owns the New York Stock Exchange dumped $3.5 million in holdings on February 26, after he and his wife Senator Loeffler had already sold millions of other stocks following a briefing she attended on the coronavirus outbreak.
Even as she and her husband sold shares in companies before the market downturn - and invested in telework companies that now benefit from nationwide work from home mandates - Senator Loeffler 'publicly downplayed the risks to public health from the virus.'
'The Senate Ethics Committee, SEC and Justice Department must look into these transactions immediately, and Senator Loeffler should explain to Georgians why she was more concerned about protecting her fortune than the people she was appointed to serve,' said DSCC spokesperson Helen Kalla.
Senator Loeffler's questionable transactions have received national and in-state scrutiny. The New York Times editorial board demanded an ethics investigation. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution put their damning report on the front-page, and there's been wall-to-wall TV coverage like this across the state about how Loeffler's stock transactions 'are raising questions whether [she was] getting even richer with early knowledge of the virus's threat.'
It's a significant liability for the appointed 'political mega-donor' who was already facing ethical issues and conflicts of interest, and questions about her assignment to the Senate subcommittee directly charged with overseeing a key regulator for her business interests.
CBS News: NYSE boss sold his own stock ahead of coronavirus market meltdown
Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the husband of Republican U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, on February 26 sold $3.5 million in shares of ICE, as the exchange is called, at an average price of $93.42 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then, ICE shares have plunged nearly 25% amid a broader downdraft in stocks.
Loeffler, along with Senator Richard Burr and other lawmakers, are facing scrutiny for unloading stock in recent weeks before Congress had sounded the alarm about the virus's threat to Americans. Burr said Friday he… would cooperate with an investigation into whether he violated prohibitions on trading on non-public information.
'It's appalling,' Virginia Canter, the chief ethics counsel for good government group CREW, said about Sprecher's and Loeffler's stock sales. 'These are people in a privileged position, and it looks like they took advantage of it.'
Loeffler and Burr sit on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which held a briefing on January 24 for senators to learn about what the panel described as the 'emerging public health threat' posed by the coronavirus. In the days after the briefing, Loeffler publicly downplayed the risks to public health from the virus.
Loeffler and Sprecher have since reported to the Senate that they began selling shares in other companies on January 24, eventually conducting 27 transactions to sell as much as $3 million in stock.
Sprecher's $3.5 million in ICE stock sales on February 26, however, are not included in Loeffler's Senate disclosure and have not previously been reported.
Experts told CBS MoneyWatch Loeffler's Senate disclosure form, filed March 12, should have included any trades made by her spouse as well as by her. That would include Sprecher's ICE stock sales, even if he was the sole owner of the shares.
'They should have been disclosed,' said Thomas Gorman, a partner at law firm Dorsey & Whitney and an expert in securities law who spent seven years at the SEC. He said that standard applies even if Specher was the sole owner of the shares and Loeffler didn't directly benefit from the sales. Sprecher's stock sales were disclosed to the SEC on February 28.
'You shouldn't be able to walk around rules like that,' Gorman said.
ICE declined to comment directly to CBS MoneyWatch on Sprecher's ICE stock sales. A spokesperson also declined to say whether the company or its board is investigating them. Sprecher could not be reached for comment. Loeffler's Senate office, closed because of the coronavirus, did not return a call for comment.
ICE said it requires executives to give the company 30 days notice before selling or buying shares. In this case, that would have been January 26, two days after Loeffler's Senate briefing on the coronavirus.
Read the full report here.