NEW: Loeffler Got “Seven-Figure Windfall” From Company Whose Regulator She Now Oversees in Congress

May 6, 2020

In the midst of her ongoing stock trading scandal, new revelations show Loeffler’s company made changes to give her a payout and create more conflicts of interest

Corporate governance expert: ICE shareholders “should not view this arrangement to have been on the up-and-up.”

ATLANTA — Today, a bombshell New York Times investigation revealed that unelected “political mega-donor” Senator Kelly Loeffler received a “lucrative parting gift” in the form of a “seven-figure windfall” from her and her husband’s company ICE — a company whose regulator she now works to oversee in Congress

Loeffler was “poised to forfeit” this compensation by leaving ICE, but the company “altered the terms of the awards, allowing her to keep them.” One consultant on executive compensation noted that the package “looks, feels and has the sweet aroma of a pure windfall.” 

These revelations are all the more shocking not only in light of Loeffler’s stock trading scandal but also her assignments to a Senate committee that’s “an overseer of the overseers of the company that made her rich” and its sub-committee that has “direct jurisdiction” over ICE’s industry. On the potential for these payouts to create “the appearance that the company is trying to curry political favor” with Loeffler, one corporate governance expert noted that ICE shareholders “should not view this arrangement to have been on the up-and-up.”

“This latest news about Senator Kelly Loeffler’s overlapping conflicts of interest and ‘lucrative parting gift’ from a company whose regulator she now has oversight jurisdiction over in the Senate present even more reasons why she must submit to an ethics investigation,” said Alex Floyd, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “Loeffler should be focused on representing Georgians in the Senate — not looking out for the company that made her rich after they changed terms to give her millions when she left.”

Read more about Loeffler’s latest conflict of interest:

NYT: Loeffler Got Lucrative Parting Gift From Public Company en Route to the Senate

  • When Kelly Loeffler accepted an appointment to be a United States senator from Georgia, she left behind a high-paying job as a senior executive at the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange. But on her way to Washington, her old employer gave her a lucrative parting gift.
  • Ms. Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate in December and is now in a competitive race to hold her seat, appears to have received stock and other awards worth more than $9 million from the company…That was on top of her 2019 salary and bonus of about $3.5 million.
  • The additional compensation came in the form of shares, stock options and other instruments that Ms. Loeffler had previously been granted but was poised to forfeit by leaving the company. Intercontinental Exchange altered the terms of the awards, allowing her to keep them.
  • “It looks, feels and has the sweet aroma of a pure windfall,” said Brian T. Foley, the managing director of Brian Foley & Company, an executive compensation consulting firm in White Plains, N.Y.
  • [The generous dispensations] add an important asterisk to Ms. Loeffler’s frequent boasts that she sacrificed huge sums of money to serve her state. They are also notable in part because she is married to Intercontinental Exchange’s chief executive, Jeffrey C. Sprecher.
  • In late January, shortly after she attended a closed-door Senate briefing on the novel coronavirus with top public health officials, she and Mr. Sprecher sold millions of dollars worth of shares in companies whose stock later lost significant value as the markets tumbled.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department are investigating trades by Senator Richard M. Burr…The inquiry could expand to include Ms. Loeffler and other senators, people familiar with it previously told The Times.
  • When Ms. Loeffler stepped down from the company less than 10 months later, she was poised to forfeit much of that Bakkt stake. But Intercontinental Exchange sped up the vesting process so that she got half of it immediately.
  • Mr. Foley, the compensation consultant, said the acceleration of the Bakkt award “was a really big cherry on top of an already generous sundae.”
  • Corporate governance experts generally frown upon companies handing such parting gifts to senior executives because they do not serve a clear business purpose and, in cases where the executive is taking a government job, they risk creating the appearance that the company is trying to curry political favor.
  • “From a corporate governance perspective, large payments to executives are appropriate only if they serve an adequate corporate purpose,” said Lucian A. Bebchuk, the director of the Program on Corporate Governance at Harvard Law School. He added that shareholders in Intercontinental Exchange “should not view this arrangement to have been on the up-and-up.”


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