Crises often identify the best and worst in people. Until someone is tested, whether it be in combat, a moral dilemma, and any number of other situations, it is difficult to know how one will react. Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshall, fired any number of flag rank officers within months of the start of World War II. Despite their performance in peace time, when the first shots were fired these men did not measure up.
Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to fill the senate seat vacated by Johnny Isakson (R-GA) when Isakson resigned last year for health reasons. Among Loeffler’s qualifications is that she is fabulously wealthy, and her husband owns the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler has no political experience, which may not even include being president of her homeowners or condominium association. But she has committed to spending $20 million of her own money in the November 2020 election to hold the seat, and then to run again in 2020 when Isakson’s term would have expired. This would free up money for other Republicans with hat in hand to wealthy contributors in a very competitive election year.
Loeffler has staked out very conservative positions on social issues, abortion, guns, taxes, and any and everything that Trump supports. Her most serious competitor in November, Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA), is every bit as conservative as she is, and also vies for Trump’s endorsement. In fact, Trump had urged Kemp to appoint Collins to replace Isakson despite Kemp’s efforts to garner Trump’s support to give the nod to Loeffler.
Loeffler and Collins have been running nasty campaigns against each other, but in my opinion Loeffler has hit harder and lower than her opponent. My favorite is Loeffler’s accusation against Collins for having voted for a prison reform bill that she claims has released violent criminals into our communities. Actually, it was a bipartisan bill supported by Trump, but why let truth get in the way of a good smear.
No one could have foreseen the coronavirus crisis pandemic and the devastating impact it is not only having on our daily lives, but also the economy. It has been amazing to watch Republicans, who voted against desperately needed financial assistance to businesses and individuals when Barack Obama inherited the 2008 recession, now support financial packages that make Obama look like a cheapskate. Times change, and when the power structure changes, too, I guess one’s political views can somehow undergo miraculous conversions.
And that all leads to Senator Loeffler and her recent making headline news in the media, including Fox, for reasons that she could only wish away. It turns out that Loeffler, among others in the House and Senate, had sold shares of stock in certain industries such as hospitality, which have been affected by the coronavirus. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was privy to some private briefings that painted a dystopian picture of the immediate future and economy, she might be able to argue with a straight face that her timing was lucky.
While Loeffler was selling shares over a period of two weeks that coincided with the select briefings, she was ensuring her Georgia constituents that all was well, that the president had the situation under control, that the United States was prepared to deal with the crisis. When confronted with what appears to be amazingly coincidental timing---her happy talk versus taking precautions to protect her portfolio, Loeffler was outraged. After all, we are only talking about a range of roughly $1 to $3 million that she saved. And as luck would have it, she also bought shares in a company that makes an app for people who might have a need to work from home, another amazing coincidence.
Loeffler had publicly blamed Democrats for hyping the situation while assuring the public that Trump was “doing a great job working to keep Americans healthy and safe.” Surely Loeffler wouldn’t lie to the citizens of Georgia who she touts as her first priority, and put her political and personal interests over the public interests. Say it ain’t so, Kelly!
Loeffler claimed that neither she nor her husband manage their portfolio, that they didn’t make the trading decisions. But what she didn’t say is that her portfolio is not in a blind trust where she would have no idea what stock was in it. She knew she had shares that were about to take a hit, and she knew which shares to buy that would likely go up.
The SEC is almost certainly going to investigate these trades. And they are very good at what they do. One of the first things they will almost certainly look at is her texts, emails and phone records to see what communications she had with her financial manager and when. Since 2012 it has been illegal for lawmakers to trade on nonpublic information under the STOCK ACT. Loeffler should have learned from former Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY), who was sentenced earlier this year to 26 months in prison for taking advantage of inside information.
Perhaps the voters of Georgia in November will conclude, as General Marshall did in a time of crisis, that Loeffler is unfit to be their United Senator. This is probably a good bet to take.