Politics

New Sen. Kelly Loeffler will help oversee agency that regulates her husband's company

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Key Points
  • After joining the Senate, Kelly Loeffler won assignment to the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • Loeffler's husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which is regulated by the CFTC.
  • Loeffler, a Republican, was appointed to the Senate by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., arrives for a re-enactment of her swearing-in, Monday Jan. 6, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin | AP

After becoming a U.S. senator this week, Kelly Loeffler won assignment to a committee that oversees the agency in charge of regulating her husband's business, setting the grounds for a potential conflict of interest.

Loeffler's husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which is regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and which owns the New York Stock Exchange. The Senate Agriculture Committee, which Loeffler joined following her Senate confirmation, oversees the CFTC.

ICE's annual report notes that the company is "subject to extensive regulation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission."

Loeffler, R-Ga., and Sprecher married in 2004, before the company went public in 2005. She had worked at ICE, leading the company's investor relations and communications programs for 15 years before slipping into Bakkt, a crypto trading platform created by ICE, as CEO in 2018.

Loeffler's office did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC asking about a potential conflict of interest. But the Republican senator told The Wall Street Journal that "I will recuse myself if needed on a case by case basis."

"I have worked hard to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the Senate's ethics rules and will continue to do so every day," she said.

The committee did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC. But Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., called Loeffler "a welcome addition to the Committee," according to the Journal.

Loeffler was sworn in as a senator on Monday, succeeding Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired on Dec 31. She was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in December in defiance of President Donald Trump, who had pressed Kemp to appoint Rep. Doug Collins to the seat.

Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, was a full-throated defender of the president during the House impeachment process led by Democrats. His appointment to the Senate could have aided Trump when proceedings move to that chamber.

Loeffler will serve in the role until a special election is held in November 2020 when she will have to win the vote. Collins has not ruled out the possibility of running for the seat at that time.