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Wall Street Donates Millions to Back Perdue and Loeffler in Georgia Senate Race
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=36912"><span class="small">Peter Stone, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Wednesday, 16 December 2020 09:36

Stone writes: "Billionaire Republicans on Wall Street have been opening their wallets to try and protect David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler's Senate seats in January 5's high-stakes runoff in Georgia against two Democrat challengers."

Republican senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. (photograph: Reuters)
Republican senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia. (photograph: Reuters)

Wall Street Donates Millions to Back Perdue and Loeffler in Georgia Senate Race

By Peter Stone, Guardian UK

16 December 20

Billionaire Republicans on Wall Street have donated millions to protect David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler’s Senate seats

illionaire Republicans on Wall Street have been opening their wallets to try and protect David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler’s Senate seats in January 5’s high-stakes runoff in Georgia against two Democrat challengers.

Two super Pacs are planning to spend about $80m on ads and other efforts backing the Republicans.

Among donors are top finance CEOs Stephen Schwarzman, of Blackstone Group, and Kenneth Griffin, of Citadel LLC, who have donated millions to the Senate Leadership Fund super Pac which is supporting Perdue, according to campaign finance records.

Last month, Schwarzman, who briefly was the chair of Donald Trump’s strategic and policy forum, contributed $15m and Griffin donated $10m to the Pac; while earlier in the year, the Pac received $20m from Schwarzman and $25m from Griffin.

Separately, a fundraising committee backing both Republican senators that launched last month has surpassed its goal of raising $35m to oppose Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. This committee is also being helped by fundraising on Wall Street including Schwarzman, Griffin and others, say two GOP sources.

The Georgia runoff will determine which party controls the Senate – and consequently how much political power Joe Biden’s administration will have to push its agenda.

If Ossoff and Warnock win, the Senate would be split 50-50, giving Democrats control since Vice-President elect Kamala Harris would have a tie breaking vote.

With the stakes so high, reports show that over $400m on ads has been spent or booked so far in Georgia by the candidates’ campaigns, their parties and outside backers.

As fundraising and spending on ads in Georgia has increased, it looks as though the two senators and their supporters are on track to have a distinct edge over their Democratic challengers.

Analysis from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) shows that securities firms, insurance and real estate companies have historically been the top donors to Perdue and Loeffler.

Elected in 2014, Perdue has raked in about $4.4m from securities, investment and real estate companies from 2015-2020, making the sector his leading campaign funder, CRP data shows.

Loeffler, who was appointed in late 2019 to fill the seat of a retiring senator with health problems, has this cycle pulled in over $1.1m from these firms, or more than other sectors donated, says CRP.

“Perdue and Loeffler’s money from Wall Street and real estate towers over every other sector that supports them in the 2020 cycle,” said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of CRP. “On top of money to the candidates, conservative outside groups are also raking in cash from major financial interests for the Georgia Senate runoffs in an attempt to keep these seats – and the Senate – for the GOP.”

Perdue’s top 10 donors, meanwhile, have included executives from insurer AFLAC and Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs which, respectively, gave him $92,000 and $88,000, according to CRP.

Loeffler’s 10 leading donors have included $114,650 from Intercontinental Exchange, a company her husband Jeffrey Sprecher runs; $29,450 from AFLAC; and $22,500 from Blackstone Group.

The Senate Leadership Fund, which boasts close ties to Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has drawn its largest financial industry checks from Schwarzman and Griffin.

Other finance sector mega donors to the super Pac include the CEOs of Charles Schwab Corp which gave $6.3m, plus Elliott Management and Stephens Inc, both of which chipped in $4m.

Overall, CRP data revealed that donations from finance, insurance and real estate sectors totaled close to $126m to the super PAC which raised close to $400m in the election cycle.


Democrats on Wall Street, meanwhile, have been supporting a big Pac backing Ossoff and Warnock, though have so far been outmatched in donations.

The pro-Democrat Senate Majority Pac, which is expected to spend millions of dollars in the runoffs, before 3 November raked in big money from two financial giants, receiving $10.2m Renaissance Technologies, and $5m from Paloma Partners, according to CRP.

Overall, however, as of 23 November, the Senate Majority Pac had just $2.1m left to spend, while the Senate Leadership Fund had $60.8m, according to CRP.

Perdue and Loeffler’s strong support from financial industry leaders seems partly attributable to their industry ties. An ex-CEO of Dollar General whose net worth was estimated last year at $16m, Perdue used to be on the board of Cardlytics, a financial tech company.

Loeffler’s husband Sprecher, chairs the New York Stock Exchange and leads global exchange operator ICE. The couple’s net worth has been pegged by Forbes at $800m.

Both senators, though, have been dogged by ethical issues involving significant stock trading during the pandemic’s early stages which sparked federal inquiries into potential illegal insider trading.

Perdue, who is the most prolific stock trader in the Senate, drew scrutiny from the justice department due to his well timed and profitable stock trading in Cardlytics: Perdue sold about $1m worth of his Cardlytics stock in January. Investigators looked at a personal email he received before the stock sale and whether he had learned early of a major management shift, the New York Times reported.

DoJ reportedly opted not to charge Perdue with any illegal trading, but the issue has roiled his runoff campaign and may have influenced his decision not to appear at a debate with Ossoff earlier this month.

Loeffler too was embroiled in an inquiry into possible insider trading during the pandemic: she dumped millions of dollars in stocks soon after she received a private briefing from health officials on the new threat in January.

DoJ investigated her trades and those of some other members, but told Loeffler in March it was not pursuing charges.

Still, the stock trading issue has surfaced in the runoffs: when the moderator at her debate with Warnock last Sunday pressed Loeffler about whether Senators should be allowed to trade stocks she avoided answering, calling the controversy about her trading a “conspiracy” and “left wing media lie”. your social media marketing partner