FORBS.COM: In late March, with the stock market reeling from the effects of coronavirus, an explosive story took over the news: Members of the U.S. Senate, who had received early briefings on the potential effects of the coronavirus, had dumped stock positions, allowing them to avoid massive losses. No one had ditched more than newly appointed Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler, who got rid of more than $20 million of shares from late January to March. Three months after becoming a Senator, Loeffler was already a poster child for Washington swampiness.
But despite all the bad headlines, the truth was that Loeffler hadn't gotten much richer from those stock trades. The reason: She was already extremely rich, worth far more than most realized. Many reports have noted that Loeffler, 49, and her husband, 65, hold a roughly $500 million stake in a company called Intercontinental Exchange, which serves as the parent to the New York Stock Exchange. But after accounting for more than a decade of share sales and dividend payments, while also taking a closer look at Loeffler's financial disclosure report, Securities and Exchange Commission filings and property records, Forbes estimates that Loeffler and her husband are worth at least $800 million.
If they've invested wisely over the years, they could be worth as much as $1 billion. Either way, it's enough to make Loeffler, in all likelihood, the richest person on Capitol Hill. Other contenders include Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida whose fortunes, based on a review of financial disclosures filed with the Senate, could exceed $275 million apiece.
The story behind Loeffler's fortune begins in 1997 with her husband, Jeff Sprecher. Then 42, Sprecher was working at a successful power plant developer and living in Beverly Hills, California, when he negotiated to buy a struggling Georgia company called Continental Power Exchange. His goal? Build out a platform that would allow traders to easily buy and sell energy commodities online.
In 2000, Sprecher took Continental and formed Intercontinental Exchange, also called ICE. He brought on companies like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as early shareholders, giving them equity in the business in exchange for promises to execute a minimum number of transactions through Sprecher's platform each year. "I figured my own personal stake, or net worth, or reward that came out of it, would work out just fine as long as the company did well," Sprecher said in a 2018 podcast. And it did. At first, Enron dominated the online energy trading market, but when its accounting scandal broke, Sprecher's business took off. END FORBS.COM
Kelly Lynn Loeffler is an American businesswoman and politician serving as the junior United States Senator for Georgia since 2020. A Republican, she was previously chief executive officer of Bakkt, a subsidiary of commodity and financial service provider Intercontinental Exchange owned by her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher. She co-owns the Atlanta Dream of the Women's National Basketball Association .
Brian Kemp, the Republican Governor of Georgia, appointed Loeffler to the United States Senate in December 2019 after Senator Johnny Isakson resigned for health reasons. Loeffler is running in the 2020 Georgia U.S. Senate special election, which will fill the Senate seat until Georgia's regularly scheduled November 2022 election. She finished second in the November 3 election, advancing to a runoff with Democrat Raphael Warnock scheduled for January 5, 2021.
Loeffler has strongly aligned herself to President Donald Trump and touted her '100 percent Trump voting record' during the campaign. She is linked to the 2020 Congressional insider trading scandal after selling stock in companies vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic valued at several million dollars the same day she attended a private briefing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on the disease, before the public had been alerted to its severity. She was cleared of all wrongdoing.
After the November 2020 election, Loeffler and fellow senator David Perdue claimed without evidence that there had been 'failures' in the election, and called for the resignation of Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican. There was no evidence of wrongdoing in connection with the election. Raffensperger rejected the calls for his resignation. According to Politico, Loeffler repeated Trump's baseless claims of fraud because she wanted the support of Trump and his core voters in the January runoff. In 1988, she graduated from Olympia High School in Stanford, where she was in marching band, ran cross-country and track, and played varsity basketball.
In 1992, Loeffler graduated with a Bachelor of Science in marketing from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign's Gies College of Business, where she was a member of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. After college, she worked for Toyota as a District Account Manager. In 1999, Loeffler graduated with a Master of Business Administration in international finance and marketing from DePaul University's Kellstadt Graduate School of Business. She financed her graduate school tuition by mortgaging land inherited from her grandparents.
Career After earning her MBA, Loeffler worked for Citibank, William Blair & Company, and the Crossroads Group. In 2002, she joined Intercontinental Exchange, a commodity and financial service provider, in investor relations. She married the firm's CEO, Jeffrey Sprecher, in 2004; Sprecher has said their courtship was her biggest risk 'because if it didn't work out, she'd be on the short end of the stick.' Loeffler was eventually promoted to senior vice president of investor relations and corporate communications. In 2018, she became the chief executive officer of Bakkt, a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange.
In 2009 Loeffler helped Intercontinental Exchange establish and market offshore a credit default swap clearninghouse in the Cayman Islands as an offshore tax haven. It allowed the biggest banks to avoid paying taxes on repatriation of income. International Exchange used Ugland House as a registration address in the tax haven without having a physical presence there.
In 2010, Loeffler bought a minority stake in the Atlanta Dream of the Women's National Basketball Association . In 2011, she and Mary Brock bought the team from Kathy Betty. Loeffler took an active role in the team, arranging her travel schedule to attend all games and often meeting with head coach Michael Cooper during halftime to analyze the first half of the game.
Political donations According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, have donated $3.2 million to political committees. Ninety-seven percent of these went to Republicans, and three percent to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Debbie Stabenow, and Georgia Congressman David Scott , who received $10,200. Loeffler donated $750,000 to Restore Our Future, a Super PAC supporting former Governor Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign. The National Republican Senatorial Committee received $247,500 from Loeffler and Sprecher. In May 2020, Sprecher gave $1 million to a Trump 2020 reelection super PAC. It was his largest ever federal political donation.
U.S. Senate Appointment
Loeffler meeting with Mitch McConnell in December 2019
Loeffler after being sworn in as Senator by Vice President Mike Pence Loeffler considered seeking the Republican nomination in the 2014 United States Senate election in Georgia but ultimately passed on the race because of Intercontinental Exchange's pending acquisition with the New York Stock Exchange.
In December 2019, Governor Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to succeed Senator Johnny Isakson, who would be resigning for health reasons at the end of the month. Kemp had traveled to Washington to explain why he wanted to appoint Loeffler instead of Trump's pick, Representative Doug Collins, who was central to the effort to keep Trump from getting impeached. The move angered many Georgia conservatives who had supported Collins. Loeffler was sworn into the Senate on January 6, 2020, becoming the second female senator to represent Georgia after Rebecca Latimer Felton, who served a symbolic one-day term in 1922. The appointment is valid only until a replacement is determined by an election .
Tenure and political positions
Loeffler speaking at the Georgia Greater Black Chamber of Commerce meeting in February 2020 Loeffler has called herself the most conservative Republican in the Senate. She is a staunch Trump ally. As of July 2020, Loeffler had always voted in line with Trump's position. She was the only sitting senator with such a record, according to the statistical predictive website, FiveThirtyEight. During her 2020 campaign, she touted her '100 percent Trump voting record.' When asked in September 2020 about a recording of Trump telling Bob Woodward that he was intentionally downplaying COVID-19 in public, Loeffler responded that it was 'fake news.'
Loeffler supports Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Loeffler opposes abortion and has said she will vote for anti-abortion legislation. The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List initially opposed Loeffler's appointment, but endorsed her in the 2020 election. On gun issues, Loeffler received an 'A' rating from the National Rifle Association. She is a cosponsor of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act and she opposes assault weapons ban and red flag law proposals. Loeffler supports constructing a border wall along the Mexico–United States border, and the appointment of conservative judges to federal courts. In September 2020, she introduced legislation to the Senate floor that would bar transgender girls and women from participating in girls' and women's sports. The bill states 'sex shall be recognized based solely on a person's reproductive biology and genetics at birth.'
In October 2020, shortly after Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were diagnosed with COVID-19 after attending events where they closely interacted with other individuals while maskless, Loeffler, who often appeared at rallies and gatherings without wearing a mask, blamed their contraction of the disease on the People's Republic of China, tweeting, 'China gave this virus to our President @realDonaldTrump and First Lady @FLOTUS. WE MUST HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.'
On March 19, 2020, the release of federal financial disclosure documents showed that Loeffler and her husband Jeffrey Sprecher, chairman and CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange , had sold stock in companies vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic with an aggregate value of several million dollars. They began selling stocks on January 24, the same day Loeffler attended a private briefing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on the spread of the disease, before the public had been alerted to its severity. Loeffler denied any wrongdoing, saying the trades were made by a third-party advisor and that she learned about them only after they occurred. Between January 24 and February 14, the couple sold between $1.275 and $3.1 million worth of stock in 27 companies, while buying stocks worth between $450,000 and $1 million, including in Citrix, which develops remote collaboration software.
The government watchdog group Common Cause filed complaints with the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee, alleging possible violations of the STOCK Act and insider trading laws in the matter of stock sales by Loeffler and three other senators, Richard Burr, Jim Inhofe, and Dianne Feinstein. Loeffler and Sprecher had sold at least $18.7 million in Intercontinental Exchange stock before the 2020 stock market crash. After being criticized for the trades, Loeffler and Sprecher sold their individual stocks in an effort 'to move beyond the distraction' caused by trades they made before and during the market decline caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. On May 26, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had closed its inquiry into Loeffler. On June 16, 2020, the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed Common Cause's complaint, writing to Loeffler, 'Based on all the information before it, the Committee did not find evidence that your actions violated federal law, Senate Rules or standards of conduct.'
2020 Senate election Main article: 2020–21 United States Senate special election in Georgia Loeffler is running to serve the remaining two years of the Senate term. She planned to spend $20 million of her own money on her campaign. Under Georgia's election law, all candidates for the seat compete in a nonpartisan blanket primary; in addition to Democratic candidates, Loeffler, backed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was challenged by fellow Republican Doug Collins, who represents Georgia's 9th congressional district. Loeffler and fellow Republican U.S. Senate election runoff candidate David Perdue called for the Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign, claiming he had 'failed to deliver honest and transparent elections.' Shortly after the release of their demand, Raffensperger rejected it, saying, 'I am the duly elected Secretary of State. One of my duties involves helping to run elections for all Georgia voters. I have taken that oath, and I will execute that duty and follow Georgia law.' He called the pair's contention that his performance in overseeing the counting of votes lacked transparency 'laughable'.
In July 2020, Loeffler, who co-owns the Atlanta Dream, wrote the WNBA a public letter objecting to players wearing shirts with 'Black Lives Matter' and 'Say Her Name' printed on them, and suggesting they wear American flags instead. She stated her opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it 'advocates things like defunding and abolishing the police, abolishing our military, emptying our prisons, destroying the nuclear famil'y and 'promotes violence and antisemitism'. Her comments led some WNBA players to call for her removal from ownership. Loeffler later said that the movement was 'based on Marxist principles' and threatens to 'destro'y America. In August 2020, players from the Dream and several other teams wore 'Vote Warnock' T-shirts in support of one of Loeffler's Democratic challengers in the special election.
During the 2020 campaign, Loeffler touted that she had been endorsed by Marjorie Taylor Greene, a controversial Republican who won the election for Georgia's 14th congressional district. Greene had a history of racist commentary and promotion of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Asked why she was involved with Greene, Loeffler suggested that the media had misconstrued or faked Greene's racist commentary and conspiracy theorizing.
As no candidate received over 50% of the vote in the election, Loeffler, who came in second, will participate in a runoff election in January 2021 against the first-place finisher, Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock. After the November election, Loeffler and the other U.S. Senator from Georgia, David Perdue, claimed without evidence that there had been 'failures' in the election, and called for the resignation of Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican. Their rhetoric fed into falsehoods and conspiracy theories among segments of the right, including Trump, who lost the presidential election to Joe Biden. There was no evidence of wrongdoing in connection with the election. Raffensperger rejected the calls for his resignation. According to Politico, Loeffler repeated Trump's baseless claims of fraud because she wanted the support of Trump and his core voters in the January runoff.
On November 20, 2020, Loeffler spoke without a mask at a rally in Canton, Georgia, forty-six days before the runoff. Later that day, Loeffler tested positive for the coronavirus, though the results of a test she took the next day were inconclusive. She had been campaigning intermittently wearing a mask. Those in crowds she drew at her rallies tended to go maskless. As a consequence of the initial test result, she canceled future personal appearances at rallies, entering quarantine until her status was resolved.
In 2004, she married Intercontinental Exchange founder and CEO and Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange Jeffrey Sprecher. They live in Tuxedo Park, Atlanta, in a $10.5 million, 15,000-square-foot estate named Descante, bought in the most expensive residential real estate transaction ever recorded in Atlanta. In August 2020, The Washington Post reported Loeffler's and Sprecher's combined net worth at $520 million, making her the wealthiest U.S. senator.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Loeffler and her husband donated $1 million to the Phoebe Foundation's COVID-19 Relief Fund of the Phoebe Putney Health System for personal protective equipment for Phoebe care team members.