At this moment of international crisis, we deserve transparency, honesty and action from our political representatives to combat the existential threat of the novel coronavirus pandemic. However, numerous senators, including Georgia’s own Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), have misled the public by downplaying the current public health disaster and have failed their constituents by potentially profiting from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Their actions will have dire consequences, and Georgians must reprimand Loeffler accordingly by voting her out of office.
On the same day that Loeffler and several other senators received a classified briefing on COVID-19, a financial advisor sold several stocks in Loeffler’s name. The information in this briefing was unavailable to the vast majority of Americans. All told, her portfolio manager sold 27 stocks, worth up to $3 million following the briefing, thereby avoiding the massive losses many others have suffered in recent weeks. The same advisor also purchased shares in her name worth between $450,000 and $1 million, some of which were in Citrix, a teleworking software company that has weathered the recent downturn unusually well. In fact, the company’s stock closed at its highest price yet this week.
While neither she nor her husband appear to have broken any laws or Senate rules as she claims a third party made the trades on her behalf and without her knowledge, the fact that she profited from the pandemic’s impact is nevertheless highly unethical. For Loeffler to rectify her actions would have been well within her power, but she has shown neither remorse nor any desire to make amends with the public.
Regardless of how Loeffler and her husband came to earn money from the recent economic downturn, the fact remains that they have profited from the fallout of a pandemic responsible for the unemployment and deaths of thousands. As Americans have lost their jobs and lives, Loeffler has padded her wallet.
Her callous dismissals of the allegations against her are an egregious violation of the public trust, particularly given her consistent failure to advocate for effective measures against the virus. As recently as March 10, Loeffler chose to tout a massive rally held on March 9 alongside former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, directly contradicting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on social distancing. Loeffler should have called on President Donald Trump and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to take more drastic action and educate her constituents on proper safety measures. Expecting her to do so in opposition to her party may have been unreasonable, given congressional Republicans’ unquestioning fealty to the president. If anything, though, that loyalty only indicates the extreme degree to which Loeffler and her colleagues have betrayed Americans’ trust; the mere fact that she was likely to let us down should not and does not preclude us from criticizing her for doing so.
The American economy has entered a bear market at lightning speed, accompanied by 3.3 million unemployment claims in the last week and nationwide closures in the hospitality industry. Rather than taking action to protect Georgians and Americans in a time of great crisis, Loeffler blamed congressional Democrats for misleading Americans on Trump’s readiness to tackle COVID-19. Georgians deserve a senator who will advocate for their economic and health interests before seeking personal benefit.
Previous simulations of nationwide virus transmission indicated the government’s unpreparedness for a pandemic, and intelligence reports from January and February warned that COVID-19 was much more of a threat than the Trump administration publicly claimed. As public health experts continued to sound the alarm about the danger of COVID-19, Trump downplayed the threat and lied about vaccines, the availability of virus tests and his own concern about the pandemic. Loeffler remained blindly loyal to Trump when she should have stood up to him by warning the public about COVID-19 and pushed him to proactively combat the virus. When she became a U.S. senator, she swore an oath — pledging to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” COVID-19 is arguably the greatest enemy our generation has ever known. In February, it was knocking at our door. Now, as the U.S. has more confirmed cases than any country, the monster has entered our house, and Loeffler turned a blind eye and cashed in her profits as it walked right in.
Loeffler has breached the public trust by prioritizing personal profit over her senatorial duties. We urge her, for the sake of the millions whose welfare she swore to defend, to donate her profits to a research institution developing a vaccine and do her duty by spreading awareness about the virus. Loeffler’s inaction thus far demonstrates a lack of fitness to serve. In the meantime, we urge Georgians to replace Loeffler this fall at the ballot box to restore trust, decency and responsibility to her seat.
The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.
The Editorial Board is composed of Sean Anderson, Brammhi Balarajan, Zach Ball, Devin Bog, Jake Busch, Andrew Kliewer, Meredith McKelvey, Boris Niyonzima, Nick Pernas and Ben Thomas.