Will Georgia's most corrupt GOP senator please stand up?
Things are really going well for Senate Republicans in the two Georgia runoffs due to take place on Jan. 5. Not only are Republicans in the middle of an epic civil war over the state's election results, they are now rallying around two candidates who appear to specialize in abusing their power for personal gain. In fact, the ethics scandals of Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have been so prolific, we decided a side-by-side comparison was in order.
We undertake the comparison with the understanding that Perdue starts with a built-in advantage of having been a sitting senator since 2015 while Loeffler has been clawing her way into contention for barely a year now. But Loeffler has really given it the ol' college try, doing her level best to leverage her relatively new seat at the table.
- Coronavirus stock dump: Loeffler, who sits on the Senate Health Committee, and her husband began dumping more than $18 million in stocks in late January, shortly after she was privy to a private all-members briefing on COVID-19. She and her husband, who chairs the New York Stock Exchange, also acquired stocks of companies that stood to gain from the crisis. She was cleared of ethics violations by a Senate committee, but insider trading by congressional members is notoriously hard to prove. With an estimated fortune of $500 million, Loeffler is the wealthiest member of Congress.
- Fundraising ethics violation: Loeffler overtly solicited campaign donations on Fox News while standing inside the U.S. Capitol, which is illegal. After Loeffler bemoaned the "dark, liberal money is pouring into our state" for the Jan. 5 Georgia runoffs, she added, "That's why it's so important that everyone across the country get involved. They can visit KellyforSenate.com to chip in 5 or 10 bucks, and get involved, volunteer."
- Honorable mention: Loeffler stood to benefit from a seedy effort by her fellow GOP senator, David Perdue, who tried to secure an extra tax break for a small pool of his wealthy donors, which happened to include Loeffler before her appointment to the seat.
- Pandemic profiteering: Similar to Loeffler, Perdue began buying up stocks (Pfizer, among others) and selling off stocks (Caesar Entertainment casino) shortly after the private pandemic briefing for senators in late January. Like Loeffler, the Senate Ethics Committee cleared Perdue.
- Debit card scandal: Shortly after Perdue pushed to roll back regulations on prepaid debit cards, he bought stock in one of its industry leaders.
- Defense contractor scandal: Perdue bought stock in a submarine parts manufacturer shortly before taking the helm of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and helped craft a budget bill that benefitted the company, pushing up its stock. Then Perdue dumped those stock acquisitions for a profit.
- Sports team scandal: Perdue pushed for a regulatory change that would have benefitted a very small pool professional sports teams owners who contributed liberally to his campaign coffers. He failed, but one of those donors included Loeffler.
To be fair, Perdue is really running away with this competition. But since Loeffler is worth half a billion dollars, give or take, we hate to count her out. Perdue, with a net worth ranging anywhere from roughly $15 million to $42 million, is among the richest members of Congress, but it's really chump change compared to Loeffler.
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