The clock is ticking on former Bakkt CEO senator Kelly Loeffler’s Financial Disclosure Report, with ethics watchdogs on guard.
Senator files extension
Loeffler filed an extension that would give her until May 5 to submit her Financial Disclosure Report. The report, which all officials are required to submit, airs potential conflicts of interest by identifying asset holdings. In the case of Loeffler, these are presumed to be substantial.
Craig Holman, an ethics lobbyist at Public Citizen, told Cointelegraph, “Extensions on filing are not uncommon. The purpose really is just transparency, obviously, of one’s potential conflicts of interest.”
Following her Jan. 8 senate appointment, the Republican from Georgia was then appointed to the Senate Agriculture Committee, giving obvious grist to ethics analysts. The committee oversees the body — the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) — that oversees her husband’s company — Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).
As a voting member of the committee, Loeffler, who raised eyebrows with her appointment last month, will vote on issues and appointments that affect the reported $600 million personal fortune of her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, CEO of ICE, the company that owns Bitcoin options contracts regulator Bakkt.
The Agriculture Committee oversees the CFTC, which monitors ICE, which owns the New York Stock Exchange. As a member, Loeffler would consequently be at risk of casting conflicting votes on commissioners of and appointments to the CFTC.
“I’m not aware of any upcoming votes,” said Holman, “although there very likely are votes that directly affect her and her husband’s wealth. I mean, she’s treading right into the middle of one big conflict of interest.”
Failure to file a Financial Disclosure Report risks both civil and financial penalties.
Resolution of conflict
Some ethics analysts consider rules of ethical oversight to have been defanged. Senators don’t need to divest from conflicting assets, nor must they place them in a blind trust, a move that would ease ethical concerns.
“She could avoid all of those problems by putting her money in a blind trust, and that would largely resolve the issue,” said Holman.
Presented as an outsider when appointed, Loeffler and her husband have donated a reported $3.2 million to political candidates, mostly Republicans. She also pledged $20 million of her own money to her campaign in November.