Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) has made little effort to help Georgians and Americans at large as an eviction crisis looms and mortgage foreclosures are expected to rise.
But the Fortune 500 company her husband runs, in which Mother Jones noted “she holds between $5 million and $25 million in stock,” has busily worked for months to capitalize on the very same pandemic causing economic harm for millions of Americans.
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.
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’s company benefited when “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,” Mother Jones reported.
When ICE’s acquisition of Ellie Mae was announced in early August, Sprecher on a conference call told analysts that Ellie Mae’s revenue has grown rapidly partly because the pandemic had accelerated the adoption of its digital tools. A few days earlier, on a quarterly earnings call, Benjamin Jackson, the president of ICE, identified ICE’s mortgage services business as one of “the real near-term revenue growth opportunities that are right in front of us that we’re already capturing…especially with COVID.”
Meanwhile, Loeffler was doing precious little to help average Americans caught up in the housing and economic crises triggered by the pandemic.
Loeffler unveiled a proposal in the spring, Mother Jones reported, that was “a hodgepodge of mostly conservative ideas, such as eliminating payroll taxes for the rest of 2020 and cutting regulations for new businesses, and reform measures related to the first wave of pandemic relief already passed.”
In July, the Republican senator opposed extending aid to Americans struggling amid the recession, saying: “I am not seeing a big need to extend the federal unemployment insurance.”
With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on evictions for those earning less than $99,000 a year ending at the end of this month, Loeffler and her fellow Republicans have said little and done nothing.
All this and more—including the accelerating spread of COVID-19—are likely to lead to a spike in mortgage foreclosures and evictions. But the new “wave of foreclosures,” Motley Fool pointed out, will likely lead to a real estate buying spree. That could be good news for Sprecher and ICE, given the company’s acquisition of Ellie Mae. And ICE will continue to benefit, if the pandemic real estate market remains as strong as it has been.
Mother Jones reported that Loefler’s campaign — which is now focusing on winning the upcoming runoff election in January — “did not respond to a request for comment about her investment in ICE, the Ellie Mae deal, and the company’s effort to capitalize on the pandemic.”
The publication concluded:
In August, Forbes reported that Loeffler, thanks to her stock deals, had become “a poster child for Washington swampiness.” Yet her ongoing relationship to ICE perhaps illustrates a deeper issue. With her husband at the helm and with a large chuck of ICE shares within her personal portfolio, Loeffler stands to gain if the company succeeds in exploiting pandemic conditions to expand its hold on the digital mortgage business.
The coronavirus crisis afforded ICE and her husband a huge opportunity, and they took an $11 billion leap with the Ellie Mae deal. So far, Loeffler has been far stingier when it comes to Georgians and other Americans for whom the pandemic means nothing but loss and misfortune.
Image credit: Screengrab / 11Alive / YouTube