NEW: Pro-Loeffler Super PAC Received Major Contribution from Donor With Business Before Sprecher-Owned NYSE

December 17, 2020

Donor made “one of his 10 largest contributions ever” to a super PAC backing Loeffler as major business decision pended before NYSE, owned by Loeffler and Sprecher’s company ICE

ATLANTA — A new Salon report today revealed that a super PAC supporting unelected “political mega-donor” Senator Kelly Loeffler received millions in contributions from GOP donor Ken Griffin at the same time that he had pending business before the NYSE run by Loeffler’s husband, Jeff Sprecher.

Just “one day after the Wall Street Journal reported that one of his companies, Citadel Securities…had reached an initial agreement to buy one of its competitors,” Griffin made “one of his 10 largest contributions ever” to a pro-Loeffler super PAC being bankrolled by Sprecher. Griffin’s acquisition was later finalized the same day he gave several thousand to another PAC supporting Loeffler as well.

This isn’t the first time Loeffler’s shady conflicts of interest with her company ICE have raised questions about her and her husband’s ethical conduct. In addition to her coronavirus stock trading scandal, Loeffler stepped into a “‘minefield’ of potential ethical issues” on Day 1, serving on a Senate committee that’s “an overseer of the overseers of the company that made her rich” while ICE continues to lobby Congress — including on legislation Loeffler claims to support. Sprecher himself was even recently caught investing in companies “set to benefit” from the “then-secret” CARES Act while Loeffler was serving on the HELP Committee.

“Once again, Senator Kelly Loeffler’s conflicts of interest leave Georgians questioning whether their senator works for them or for her and her husband’s company,” said Alex Floyd, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Georgia. “This is big money Washington politics at its worst, and further proof that Loeffler is only looking out for herself and her super wealthy corporate pals in the Senate, not hardworking Georgians.”

Read more about Loeffler and her husband’s latest shady donor scandal:

Salon: This hedge-fund billionaire is a huge fan of Sen. Kelly Loeffler — but why?

  • On Oct. 9, billionaire Ken Griffin, the head of a multinational financial services company, gave $2 million to a super PAC called Georgia United Victory (GUV), which had originally been launched by allies of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp but at the time exclusively supported Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s election campaign.
  • His $2 million to GUV on Oct. 9 was one of his 10 largest contributions ever, and he had already given the Loeffler-centric PAC $1 million about five weeks earlier.
  • Most major Republican donors at that time were avoiding Loeffler’s race, a nonpartisan “jungle primary” in which she faced not just Democrats like the Rev. Raphael Warnock — her current opponent in the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff election — but also Rep. Doug Collins, a conservative Republican closely allied with President Trump.
  • Griffin’s donation to GUV on Oct. 9 also came one day after the Wall Street Journal reported that one of his companies, Citadel Securities — a separate entity from the Citadel hedge fund, which Griffin also runs — had reached an initial agreement to buy one of its competitors, a company called IMC, for a price “in the tens of millions of dollars.”
  • But before that could happen, management at the world’s most famous stock exchange — a central institution in American capitalism since its founding in 1792 — had to approve the deal. That followed in due course, and according to a Citadel Securities press release, the acquisition of IMC was finalized on Nov. 18.
  • As it happens, Kelly Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman of the New York Stock Exchange — as well as founder and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the company that has owned the exchange since acquiring it in a $10.9 billion deal in 2013. Loeffler herself sits on a Senate committee that oversees Wall Street and the financial markets.
  • The circumstances and timing of the Loeffler donations remain distinctive, and serve to illustrate the haze of money, power and influence that surround the newly-minted Georgia senator, who walked away from an immensely lucrative career as a top executive within her husband’s firm when she entered politics a little less than a year ago. 
  • Given Loeffler’s connections, as well as the government oversight she now exercises over those connections, almost every contact she has with her husband’s industry reverberates with potential conflicts of interest.
  • At the time of Griffin’s donations, this had been made clear in months of reporting about Loeffler’s wealth and corporate ties, as well as the widespread scrutiny she drew, along with several other senators, for a number of well-timed stock trades ahead of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Before the Nov. 3 general election, GUV apparently received contributions from only a few donors. In the four months between the PAC’s July launch and Election Day, Griffin and Sprecher were among only 26 contributors. Griffin’s $3 million was exceeded only by Sprecher’s $10.5 million, with all other GUV donors chipping in a combined total of about $3 million.
  • There are no obvious political or ideological reasons why Ken Griffin would value Kelly Loeffler so much higher than Doug Collins, or why he was evidently so much more invested in her success than were other GOP mega-donors. As noted above, however, Loeffler sits on the Senate committee that conducts oversight of stock trading.


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