Sketchy Gets Sketchier: Senator Loeffler Received $9 Million 'Gift' Right Before She Joined The Senate

from the seems-iffy dept

Kelly Loeffler is, by far, the wealthiest elected official in Congress, with an estimated net worth of half a billion dollars (the second wealthiest is Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte (famous for his body slamming a journalist for asking him a question and then lying to the police about it)). Loeffler may be used to getting away with tearing up the red tape in her previous life, but in Congress, that often looks pretty corrupt. In just the last few months since she was appointed, there were concerns about her stock sales and stock purchases, which seemed oddly matched to information she was getting during briefings regarding the impact of COVID-19. She has since agreed to convert all her stock holdings to managed funds outside of her control (something every elected official should do, frankly).

Now, the NY Times is noting another form of what we've referred to as "soft corruption" -- moves that might technically be legal, but which sure look sketchy as hell to any regular non-multimillionaire elected official. In this case, Senator Loeffler received what was, in effect, a gift worth $9 million from her former employer, Intercontinental Exchange (the company that runs the NY Stock Exchange, and where her husband is the CEO).

The key issue was that since she was leaving the job to go join the Senate, she had a bunch of unvested stock. For normal people, if you leave a job before your stock vests, too bad. That's the deal. The vesting period is there for a reason. But for powerful, rich people, apparently the rules change. Intercontinental Exchange changed the rules to grant her the compensation that she wasn't supposed to get, because why not?

Ms. Loeffler, who was appointed to the Senate in December and is now in a competitive race to hold her seat, appears to have received stock and other awards worth more than $9 million from the company, Intercontinental Exchange, according to a review of securities filings by The New York Times, Ms. Loeffler’s financial disclosure form and interviews with compensation and accounting experts. That was on top of her 2019 salary and bonus of about $3.5 million.

The additional compensation came in the form of shares, stock options and other instruments that Ms. Loeffler had previously been granted but was poised to forfeit by leaving the company. Intercontinental Exchange altered the terms of the awards, allowing her to keep them. The largest component — which the company had previously valued at about $7.8 million — was a stake in an Intercontinental Exchange subsidiary that Ms. Loeffler had been running.

The entitlement factor oozes out of the statement put out from her office in response to this:

“Kelly left millions in equity compensation behind to serve in public office to protect freedom, conservative values and economic opportunity for all Georgians,” said Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for Ms. Loeffler. “The obsession of the liberal media and career politicians with her success shows their bias against private sector opportunity in favor of big government.”

No, Stephen, that's not the issue. The issue is that normal people who haven't vested yet, don't get to have the board change the vesting rules as you're leaving to go legislate in order to give you a $9 million windfall you didn't earn because it hadn't vested. If it had just been a question of compensation, no one would be complaining. If she had played by the rules that everyone else played by, lived up to her end of the contract and vested the equity, then no big deal. The problem is the last minute changing of the rules to get her a pretty massive payout (perhaps not by her standards, but by anyone else's).

Indeed, the details show that this wasn't just a timing thing, like a standard vesting deal, but that Loeffler was supposed to reach certain milestones to be able to get the equity. She didn't, but she still gets it. That's the part that has people concerned.

In February 2019, Intercontinental Exchange gave Ms. Loeffler a stake in a limited liability company that owned a stake in Bakkt, according to a March 2019 securities filing. The company at the time estimated the award was worth $15.6 million. But Ms. Loeffler would be able to cash in on the award only under certain circumstances, including if Bakkt’s value soared or if it became a publicly traded company.

When Ms. Loeffler stepped down from the company less than 10 months later, she was poised to forfeit much of that Bakkt stake. But Intercontinental Exchange sped up the vesting process so that she got half of it immediately.

The company, of course, puts a nice spin on it, saying "We admire Kelly’s decision to serve her country in the U.S. Senate and did not want to discourage that willingness to serve,” but what else are they going to say anyway?

Still waiting for that supposed swamp draining we keep hearing about.

Filed Under: conflicts, equity, gifts, kelly loeffler, soft corruption, vesting
Companies: bakkt, intercontinental exchange


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 7 May 2020 @ 4:14pm

    'All' as defined by 'those already stupidly rich' I assume

    “Kelly left millions in equity compensation behind to serve in public office to protect freedom, conservative values and economic opportunity for all Georgians,” said Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for Ms. Loeffler.

    No see, when you leave behind millions that means you don't get to keep them, it doesn't mean that the rules are bent specifically for you so that you get to keep what anyone else would have lost.

    As for the second half regarding protecting 'economic opportunity of all Georgians' given the dodgy as hell and pretty blatantly corrupt actions regarding selling stocks in companies about to take a beating while telling the public everything was going great, that is beyond pathetic. Pretty sure the majority of people in that state or any other don't have the 'economic opportunities' for what amounts to insider trading, or the chance to make millions doing it.

    If those are the 'conservative values' that she went into office to protect then those values are clearly just as rotten as she is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2020 @ 4:37pm

      Re: 'All' as defined by 'those already stupidly rich' I assume

      In politics definitions keep changing, so maybe that's what political-conservative means now. (which sounds like crazy talk to me)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    383bigblock (profile), 7 May 2020 @ 4:52pm

    Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

    I know it's always nice to pounce on a conservative, but lets be real this crap happens on both sides of the isle whether you're already rich or on the way to it. Pelosi is worth over $200m how did that happen I wonder, the Clintons....I think we all know that too and lets not forget about all of their entitle children. This is an across the board problem in politics. Who wants to take bets on just how many millions AOC ends up with (surely as a bartender she was on the path to being a millionaire). Who would have thought that one of the most lucrative careers would have been associated with a job that just spends other peoples money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 7 May 2020 @ 5:07pm

      Re: Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

      Your whataboutism isn't helpful.

      Here's an example of someone who's clearly corrupt, and the best you can do is "but but but CLINTON!!1"' and "but but but THAT HISPANIC LADY WHO HASN'T DONE ANYTHING WRONG YET BUT WILL!!!11!"

      Your idiotic take on this is exactly why nothing EVER gets done.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 7 May 2020 @ 7:07pm

        'Quick, what's that over there?!'

        Your whataboutism isn't helpful.

        On the contrary, these days a laugh can be hard to come by so by providing the opportunity for a hearty chuckle with a transparent as hell 'look over there!' they in fact provided a valuable public service.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 7 May 2020 @ 5:20pm

      this crap happens on both sides of the [a]isle

      So what? That doesn’t, and shouldn’t, excuse Loeffler’s actions.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        NoahVail (profile), 8 May 2020 @ 8:41am

        Re:

        The discussed corruption regularly happens in right wing circles - only - or it doesn't.

        If non-right instances of corruption aren't of any meaningful amount than yes - injecting them into the conversation is a counterproductive distraction. Otherwise, the point that this corruption not limited to one party is valid.

        Is saying that corruption is endemic to both parties a worthwhile point to make? I think that depends on what you want to eliminate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          NoahVail (profile), 8 May 2020 @ 9:53am

          Re: Re:

          I've a secondary point. It's somewhat less precise but I arrived at it thru decades of honesty-driven analysis.

          The most productive path to fixing the other team's bad behavior lies thru fixing the instances of that bad behavior in one's own team.

          Conversely, when someone isn't holding their own team accountable, in a way that consistently effects observable change, they are enabling, emboldening, condoning, instructing, guaranteeing (how many more participles do I need here?) the other team's bad behavior.

          The phrase "Clean Your Own House" is most frequently used as a bludgeon, usually as response to someone else's bad choices. This accomplishes nothing because the phrase is only powerful as a self-applied principle. It's the actual cleaning of one's own house that effects change.

          If we truly want an effective society, all of us need to become better, more mature, more considering individuals. We'll know we got there when we've stopped demonizing people we don't like and discarded the harmful things-we-hold-dear (like outrage or winning an argument).

          Seriously, we all need to grow up.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            NoahVail (profile), 8 May 2020 @ 9:58am

            Re: Re: Re:

            (appending the last paragraph from outrage to *seeking outrage)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Rocky, 8 May 2020 @ 11:58am

            Re: Re: Re:

            The most productive path to fixing the other team's bad behavior lies thru fixing the instances of that bad behavior in one's own team.

            The thing that you miss is that in general Democrats tend to be truth-seeking whereas for Republicans what matters are toeing to the "party line" - regardless what it is. This can aptly be seen how Republicans treated Romney after the impeachment-vote, but that is just one very public example and what happens elsewhere is much, much worse where people are ostracized.

            I'm not saying Democrats are flawless, far from it - but in general their MO is very much healthier since dissent is allowed.

            So, your statement is only relevant if the other team actually gives a fuck, which evidently the current GOP doesn't.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 8 May 2020 @ 3:26pm

          Is saying that corruption is endemic to both parties a worthwhile point to make?

          In a general discussion of politics, yes. In a discussion of specific corruption by a specific politician from a specific political party, no. “Dems do it too!” should never excuse or mitigate Republican wrongdoing—and that holds true for the inverse, too.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2020 @ 6:28pm

      Re: Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

      Could you at least have some interesting "both sides" nonsense instead of regurgitated Fox News cult talking points? It's so boring.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      z! (profile), 7 May 2020 @ 6:33pm

      Re: Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

      Citations, please.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2020 @ 7:22pm

      Re: Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

      "worth over $200M" <citation needed>
      Sorry, it's a lot less than that.

      Oh, and most of that, comes from her husband, a venture capitalist.
      THATS how that happens.
      And they've always been upfront about their taxes and financial disclosures.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 May 2020 @ 1:38am

      Re: Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

      "Pelosi is worth over $200m how did that happen I wonder, the Clintons....I think we all know that too and lets not forget about all of their entitle children."

      There have been fscktons written about the clintons, to start with. But let's just conveniently forget about that and try to make it an issue of how no one's supposed to say anything bad about a GOP senator because apparently not enough has been written about the Clintons to allow for anyone to similarly criticize a republican politician over similar, and even more blunt shenanigans.

      "I know it's always nice to pounce on a conservative..."

      The same way democrats are pounced on, you mean? Except democrats don't really have a similar chorus of whining sycophants opening up a hymn of complaints that anyone DARE question their actions that republicans have.

      Oh, yes, democrats are similarly corrupt - as exemplified by candidate Sock Puppet currently being launched as the leading anti-trump missile. Democrat candidates know full well their electorate doesn't exculpate them at the drop of a hat so at least they have to pretend and be subtle about their corruption - which occasionally leads them to do some actual good in their efforts to whitewash their CV.

      Republican politicians, however, know damn well they could get paid off in publicly handed over wads of cash in front of an open camera with the beneficiary lobby loudly thanking the politician for services rendered - and if that politician was questioned over it republican voters would all stand up and cry about how mean the liberals are being without a single seconds worth of actual thought about what their own chosen representative was just caught doing.

      "This is an across the board problem in politics."

      So it is, but there's just one side of voters who always and invariably forgive their chosen representatives for being bought-and-paid-for. Nixon was defended even when his own adherents admitted they knew he was "guilty as hell".

      Politics, in order to work at all, need both sides to put actual demands and pressure on their representatives. Republicans have completely dropped that part which is why Trump bragged about how he could shoot people without losing a single vote.

      And when one side of that tug-of-war collapses the other just keels over as well which is why democrats have, by now, gotten used to having to hold their noses when voting because none of the credible candidates feel compelled to make much of an effort other than "Hey, I'm against <Insert republican opposite fsckwad candidate here>"

      "Who would have thought that one of the most lucrative careers would have been associated with a job that just spends other peoples money."

      Anyone who cast a single glance at the US and found one political side forgiving their representatives anything short of actual murder just because and the other side forgiving their candidate anything short of murder as long as they were a credible threat to the other side.

      Looking at this shit-show from the outside of the US I find, daily, US politicians getting away with crap which in most of europe would have said politician thrown out of the party or facing actual jail sentences. I'm not surprised at all it's "lucrative" being in US politics.

      How about you republicans start fixing the issue by beginning to cast votes ONLY for candidates you'd trust to babysit your kids?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2020 @ 3:28am

        Re: Re: Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

        How about you republicans start fixing the issue by beginning to cast votes ONLY for candidates you'd trust to babysit your kids?

        That would require 'Re open Nominations'' and a repeat of the election so that the electorate can say no until a decent candidate comes forward.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 11 May 2020 @ 2:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

          "That would require 'Re open Nominations'' and a repeat of the election so that the electorate can say no until a decent candidate comes forward."

          That might just be the case in a republic where direct voter influence is diluted until all that remains is saying "Uh, I guess I have to, yeah" or "No, fsck no!".

          The founding fathers of the US were rightly afraid of direct democracy simply because they believed the average voter wouldn't necessarily be smart enough or educated enough to make a good call. At the time, they were correct.

          Today the "average" voter might still be an idiot but at least they ARE educated to a degree which 99% of the 18th-century citizenry couldn't even dream of. And with the ability to amass knowledge unheard of by anyone not extremely wealthy and/or connected in those times. Today direct democracy is...hmm...at least a less flawed choice than the republican variant.

          Of course, with republicans today deliberately blocking all voter reform which would involve more citizens in the process of voting it's dubious whether you can even fix the broken electorate system, let alone dream of building it into a better one.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bloof (profile), 8 May 2020 @ 9:04am

      Re: Let's be sure to check everyone's closets

      A bartender that graduated cum laude from Boston University College of Arts and Sciences with a BA in international relations and economics, surely she was never going to go anywhere in life.

      I love how the right love to laud the American dream when using pulling yourself up by your bootstraps to justify killing social programs and making it harder for poor people to climb out of poverty, then in the next breath decry anyone who ever worked a service job to be able to afford to live for getting a sniff of power. She's clearly unqualified, unlike people on the right who're born into great wealth, have never worked to pay for anything on their way up and have been bailed out through their constant failures in life and business. People that have appointed other members of the lucky sperm club to government jobs in fields they have zero qualifications to hold.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 7 May 2020 @ 6:49pm

    I imagine this would open them up to a lawsuit from anyone else who didn't get paid because they left before it vested?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 7 May 2020 @ 9:39pm

    Simple mistake

    Still waiting for that supposed swamp draining we keep hearing about.

    It was "raining the swamp". And 9 mills is just a tiny bit more of murkiness here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2020 @ 2:22am

    Filthy corrupt politicians selling out in our faces. System is too broken to hold tgwm accountable. Nothing is free in life that gift bought quite a lot of favor from another shameles republican. Insider trading is illegal un lesz you are republican, then its cine in the Trump administration. They all should burn in hell. People are dying yet they are stealing and cheating by abusing their position like its no big deal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dickeyrat, 8 May 2020 @ 6:52am

    Face it: besides having deteriorated into a two-bit Fascist banana republic (Google "Michael Flynn" for reference), this country is just a plain scam. The Unmitigated Scam of Amerika.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 May 2020 @ 8:08am

    "The key issue was that since she was leaving the job to go join the Senate, she had a bunch of unvested stock. For normal people, if you leave a job before your stock vests, too bad. That's the deal. The vesting period is there for a reason. But for powerful, rich people, apparently the rules change. Intercontinental Exchange changed the rules to grant her the compensation that she wasn't supposed to get, because why not? "

    I think you missed the obvious here- she gets the money cause SHE STILL WORKS FOR THEM. Look at it as here bonus for doing everything she can to steal from the masses to give to the rich. The US is a banana republic that has legalized bribery for the 'elected' officials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John, 8 May 2020 @ 10:55am

    Draining the swamp

    Seems that having her in the senate adds to the depth of the swamp

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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