Loeffler Dodging Georgia Press, Faces “‘Minefield’ of Potential Ethical Issues”

December 11, 2019

Hand-picked mega-donor meets with McConnell before Georgians, “under scrutiny” for her likely conflicts of interest

ATLANTA — The hand-picked mega-donor appointed to Georgia’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat found time to jetset to Washington to meet with Mitch McConnell but is dodging the Georgia press corps and voters as she faces a potential “minefield’ of ethical issues.” 

Two stories in the AJC highlight these problems, which compound the “mounting conservative criticism” and fallout from her promise to buy a Senate seat with “$20 million of her own cash”: 

AJC: The Jolt: A soon-to-be senator not yet ready for her close-up 

  • Even as she’s introducing herself to Republican movers-and-shakers in D.C. and Atlanta, Loeffler has yet to sit down with members of the press, beyond a few cursory questions at her inaugural press conference last week.
  • Among the questions she’ll face is how she’ll reconcile her past donations to Democratic candidates, her stance on “religious liberty” legislation, her plans to avoid conflicts of interest with her business interests — as well as those of her husband, her $20 million investment in her own campaign, and how she plans to broaden the GOP’s appeal.
  • But Loeffler can’t avoid cameras, digital recorders and notebooks for long. And pretty soon, every time she steps foot in or out of the U.S. Senate chamber, she’ll be surrounded by national reporters with little knowledge of Georgia politics hounding her for answers.

AJC: Loeffler to face ‘minefield’ of potential ethical issues in Senate

  • Loeffler is under scrutiny over how she handles a vast fortune she’s accrued at Intercontinental Exchange, the Atlanta-based trading platform where Loeffler has long served as a senior official and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, is the chief executive.
  • She also faces questions about whether she’ll serve on powerful committees that oversee the financial industry or cast votes on issues that could influence her husband’s company or its subsidiary, the Bakkt cryptocurrency firm she now runs.
  • [Loeffler] would not say how she planned to manage her finances or whether she would sit out votes that could influence her business. Nor would she say whether she would pursue positions on committees that have oversight over the financial industry.
  • Loeffler has faced little vetting from the public or from her opponents due to the nature of her appointment.
  • “There’s certainly a minefield of issues – legitimate questions that the press and public should raise about whether Ms. Loeffler’s financial interest will impact decisions she makes in the Senate,” said Donald Sherman, the deputy director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group.
  • Ethics experts called on Loeffler to build goodwill by taking aggressive steps. Delaney Marsco, ethics counsel for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said placing her assets in a blind trusts was a “good method to assuage concerns about conflicts of interest related to her personal holdings.”
  • “It’s extremely important that she do this the right way, that she hold really high standards,” said [Georgia Ethics Watchdogs’ William] Perry, “because we really know nothing about her.”

“Kelly Loeffler may prefer hobnobbing in Washington with Mitch McConnell and special interests but she has questions to answer about her record and the potential ethical issues facing her appointment,” said Alex Floyd, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Georgians deserve a senator who will focus on fighting for them in Washington, not fighting to protect their own financial dealings while cozying up to Republican political insiders and powerful special interests.”


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