Loeffler “Already a Target” Following Rocky First Week in the Senate

January 10, 2020

As the “political mega-donor” closes out her first week in office, Loeffler facing new conflicts of interest and weak polling

ATLANTA — It’s been a rough first week in office for “political mega-donor” Senator Kelly Loeffler. Following a rocky rollout that featured a “GOP firestorm” surrounding Loeffler’s selection after she bought a temporary Senate appointment by promising to funnel $20 million of her fortune into the campaign, Loeffler is already facing new challenges as she struggles to define herself with Georgia voters.

Read more about Loeffler’s rocky first week:

WSJ: Senator Whose Spouse Runs Major Exchange to Help Oversee Regulator

  • A new U.S. senator whose spouse both runs and owns a minority stake in a major exchange operator will help oversee one of the company’s main federal regulators, setting up a potential conflict of interest.
  • Republican leadership assigned interim Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R., Ga.), whose husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is chairman and chief executive of Intercontinental Exchange Inc., to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee.
  • The committee oversees the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which regulates markets for derivatives that trade on ICE exchanges. The committee also oversees agriculture, logging, forestry and nutrition programs.
  • Gregory Gelzinis, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, called her committee assignment “a cause for concern.”
  • Ms. Loeffler’s appointment comes at a time when the agriculture committee is working on legislation to reauthorize the CFTC. The committee’s oversight functions also include approving nominations for CFTC commissioners.

CNBC: New Sen. Kelly Loeffler will help oversee agency that regulates her husband’s company

  • After becoming a U.S. senator this week, Kelly Loeffler won assignment to a committee that oversees the agency in charge of regulating her husband’s business, setting the grounds for a potential conflict of interest.
  • Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which is regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and owns the New York Stock Exchange. The Senate Agriculture Committee, which Loeffler joined following her Senate confirmation, oversees that agency.
  • ICE’s annual report says it’s “subject to extensive regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.”
  • Loeffler’s office did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC asking about a potential conflict of interest.
  • Loeffler was sworn in as a senator on Monday, succeeding Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired on Dec 31. She was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in December in defiance of President Donald Trump, who had pressed Kemp to appoint Rep. Doug Collins to the seat.
  • Loeffler will serve in the role until a special election is held in November 2020 when she will have to win the vote. Collins has not ruled out the possibility of running for the seat at that time.

Open Secrets:

IJR: New GOP Senator Will Sit on Committee Overseeing Agency That Regulates Her Husband’s Business

  • Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler — who was just sworn into office this week after being appointed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp — is diving headfirst into the culture of Washington in her new role sitting on a committee that oversees the government agency that regulates her husband’s business.
  • Loeffler, who has never held a political office her life, was appointed to Senate Agriculture Committee where she will be one of the senators overseeing the federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • One of the companies that the CFTC oversees is the Intercontinental Exchange Inc, where Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is the CEO.
  • But her new role has already caused criticism, Robert Maguire of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington summarized the development in a straightforward tweet, writing, “Republican leadership has assigned Georgia’s new interim senator to a committee that oversees the federal agency that regulates her husband’s business.”
  • Though Loeffler has never been elected to office, she and her husband have a long history of pumping money into politics. The Center for Responsive Politics notes that they have given $3.2 million to political committees and have even donated to Democrats including to Hillary Clinton in 2007.
  • Loeffler replaced Senator Johnny Isakson and her appointment caused a bit of tension in the party. Many Republicans had backed Georgia Congressman Doug Collins, who has enjoyed an elevated profile in the impeachment era, but Kemp tapped Loeffler for the role.

AJC: The Jolt: One week in office and Kelly Loeffler is already a target

  • Georgia Conservatives in Action said in a statement Thursday it “strongly encourages” U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, to enter the race against fellow U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler — who must win a November all-comers election to complete the remaining two years of Johnny Isakson’s six-year term.
  • Georgia Conservatives in Action is a grassroots GOP group headed up by longtime activists Pat Tippett and Kay Godwin. They’re considered important players in campaigns that require rural Georgia support.
  • Meanwhile, President Donald Trump still hasn’t endorsed U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

AJC: The Jolt: “A pair of polls conducted in December but released on Tuesday point to challenges ahead for Georgia’s new U.S. senator.”

  • A Mason-Dixon poll found no consensus on Gov. Brian Kemp’s pick of Kelly Loeffler for the vaunted seat, showing that roughly one-third of voters approve of the appointment and about 29% disapprove.
  • A survey of Republican voters by Public Policy Polling dug a little deeper. It found that roughly 20% of voters had a favorable opinion of Loeffler, 20% had an unfavorable opinion of her.
  • Asked the same question about U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, her top potential GOP rival, nearly two-thirds of Republican voters have a favorable opinion and only 6% have an unfavorable view.
  • In a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, the Gainesville congressman bested Loeffler by a 56-16% margin.

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