From The Huffington Post:
For weeks, the couple had done almost nothing but sell. Loeffler was one of several senators who faced public outrage for unloading millions of dollars in stock before most Americans understood the towering threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Then shortly before the CARES Act, a $2 trillion emergency stimulus package, was introduced in the Senate, her husband reversed course and purchased up to $1 million in new shares, a HuffPost investigation has found.The terms of the CARES Act were still mostly a secret, known primarily to Republican senators while members of their party crafted the legislation. But in the days before the bill’s introduction, Sprecher managed to invest in several industries — insurance and energy — that were poised to take advantage of the bill’s very specific provisions.Those purchases are just the latest to raise questions about whether Loeffler, the Senate’s richest member, has ever used the insider knowledge she gleans on Capitol Hill to inform her own portfolio. Loeffler is locked in an intense runoff election in Georgia that will help decide which party controls the U.S. Senate when President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office, and her challenger, Democrat Raphael Warnock, has made accusations that she uses her seat for personal enrichment a constant theme of his attacks.Trading on nonpublic congressional information is illegal — and the very idea is so corrosive that many lawmakers forgo trading in individual stocks altogether.
Mother Jones highlighted last week how Loeffler’s husband has been profiting off the pandemic:
Loeffler’s husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which owns a variety of financial exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange, and other financial businesses. The company is valued at close to $60 billion. Loeffler, who was appointed to to fill a vacant Senate seat in late 2019 and who now is in a run-off contest against Democrat Raphael Warnock, worked at Intercontinental Exchange for 16 years and left the firm at the end of 2018. She was a crucial part of its corporate team, according to a company press release that announced her departure: “Loeffler has played a role at every stage of ICE’s growth since joining the company in 2002. From its roots as a startup to becoming a Fortune 500 company, Loeffler, a member of ICE’s Executive Management Committee, has led all aspects of ICE’s investor relations, communications, marketing strategy, brand, digital platforms and sustainability efforts, among many other contributions.” She entered the Senate with an estimated fortune of $800 million, making her the richest member of Congress.
ICE is best known for its ownership of various exchanges, including futures exchanges in the United States, Canada, and Europe. But it also has a business that handles the processing of mortgages. This is the fastest growing part of the firm. And in recent years, ICE has pushed to digitalize the mortgage industry. This summer, pursuing dominance in the online mortgage business, Sprecher engineered an $11 billion purchase of Ellie Mae, a leading provider of software for originating mortgages.
Sprecher and ICE were taking advantage of the moment. As Fortune magazine observed, ICE was benefitting from two aspects of the pandemic: lockdowns prevented customers from heading to banks and law offices, and low interest rates brought about by the economic calamity caused a dramatic spike in refinancing of mortgages. “All at once, COVID hits, and we see everyone from lenders to lawyers to title insurers flocking to go to our digital platforms,” Sprecher told Fortune. “In part, it was that sea change that gave us the confidence to buy Ellie Mae.”
Loeffler, a multi-millionaire whose husband is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, sold millions of dollars in stocks shortly after she received a private briefing from health officials on the emerging coronavirus in January, prompting a Justice Department investigation, which didn't lead to charges. Loeffler has said outside advisers handle her and her husband's trades.
On Sunday night, Loeffler pivoted away from the debate moderator's question and called it an attack on American's pursuing the American dream. She called the controversy surrounding her trades a “left-wing media lie” and a “conspiracy.”
“Look, what's at stake here in this election is the American dream,” she said. “This is an attack on every single Georgian who gets up everyday to work hard to provide a better life for their family.”
An examination of Mr. Perdue’s stock trading during his six years in office reveals that he has been the Senate’s most prolific stock trader by far, sometimes reporting 20 or more transactions in a single day.
The Times analyzed data compiled by Senate Stock Watcher, a nonpartisan website that aggregates publicly available information on lawmakers’ trading, and found that Mr. Perdue’s transactions accounted for nearly a third of all senators’ trades reported in the past six years. His 2,596 trades, mostly in stocks but also in bonds and funds, roughly equal the combined trading volume of the next five most active traders in the Senate.
The data also shows the breadth of trades Mr. Perdue made in companies that stood to benefit from policy and spending matters that came not just before the Senate as a whole, but before the committees and subcommittees on which he served.
Nearly half of Mr. Perdue’s FireEye trades, for example, occurred while he sat on the cybersecurity panel, a role that potentially could have provided him with nonpublic information about companies like FireEye. During that period, FireEye landed a subcontract worth more than $30 million with the Army Cyber Command, which had operations at Fort Gordon, in Mr. Perdue’s home state. In 2018, Mr. Perdue reported capital gains of up to $15,000 from FireEye trades.
Ms. Loeffler made plain the Republican strategy when she called Mr. Warnock a “radical liberal” 13 times in their debate on Sunday evening. She repeatedly invoked his past criticism of police officers and a sermon in which he once said that “nobody can serve God and the military,” a theme that has roots in biblical passages.
Her plan of attack followed a similar portrayal by President Trump during his rally on Saturday in Valdosta, Ga., where Republicans played a video that likened Mr. Warnock to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Chicago pastor whose comments drew scrutiny to his relationship with Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign. The video included footage of Mr. Wright famously saying “God damn America.”
That same critique has been echoed by other Republican surrogates, who have spent more time focusing on Mr. Warnock than Mr. Ossoff.
“This is a man who celebrated Jeremiah Wright, the radical pastor who was so far to the left that even Barack Obama had to repudiate him,” Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said during a stop in Georgia last month.
Making Mr. Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s storied Ebenezer Baptist Church, the face of the opposition for the Jan. 5 election — rather than Mr. Ossoff, a young white documentary filmmaker — represents a two-pronged strategy.
Spotlighting a Black candidate and linking him to the state’s most prominent African-American Democrat, Stacey Abrams, amounts to a strategy to motivate turnout among white conservatives, especially those who harbor racist views and are uneasy about Black leadership. Mr. Warnock would be the first Black Democratic senator from the South.
But Gracie Bonds Staples at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes a pretty solid case here:
At an Atlanta Press Club debate last Sunday, Loeffler referred more than a dozen times to Ebenezer’s pastor as “radical, liberal Raphael Warnock” and repeatedly made reference to his allegiance to Wright.
It didn’t work during the Obama campaign, and it won’t work now.
Frank discussions about race in Black churches are as common as the exegesis of religious text.
Black churches, said Vincent Lloyd, a professor of Christian ethics and Africana studies at Villanova University, have long been a space of refuge, healing, imagining, and political strategizing.
“During slavery, when the gathering of Black Americans was often prohibited or highly restricted,” he said, “Black Christian communities were among the few spaces where Blacks could come together and frankly assess their situation, support each other, and work together for social and political transformation.”
During the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., decried the “anti-faith attacks against Amy Coney Barrett coming from the left” as “disgusting.” Loeffler was part of a conservative chorus lamenting any mention of the judge's faith. Yet the senator's disgust with faith-based attacks seems to have dissipated — just in time for her Senate runoff election. In a debate Sunday night with her challenger, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Loeffler waged an all-out attack on her opponent's Christian beliefs.
Throughout the debate, Loeffler repeatedly took Warnock's sermons out of context. In particular, she focused on an old sermon in which Warnock said you can't serve both God and the military. But the clip was part of a longer riff on Matthew 6:24, not an argument against military service.
“She's lied, not only on me, but on Jesus,” Warnock responded during the debate before delivering another mini-sermon for his opponent. “Everybody's clear about what that passage is about in Matthew. You can't serve two masters, and she should have listened to the lesson. Maybe she wouldn't be so focused on herself, she'd be thinking about the people she's supposed to represent.”
Repeatedly throughout the debate, Loeffler seemed to purposefully speak down to Warnock, refusing to refer to him using his professional titles, as would have been appropriate. Instead, Loeffler called him “radical liberal Raphael Warnock” a dozen times.
Let’s seal the deal and win the Senate.
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