Kelly Loeffler's disclosures appear to omit the holding company that operates her private jet

If the Georgia senator knowingly falsified or omitted information from her disclosure forms, that's a crime

By Roger Sollenberger
November 20, 2020 10:00AM (UTC)
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U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (Toni L. Sandys-Pool/Getty Images))

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., the unelected multimillionaire senator now heading for a runoff election in January, appears to have omitted a holding company from her federally mandated financial disclosures, which would violate Senate ethics rules and federal law.

The company, Descante Capital Holdings, was uncovered in Salon's reporting on a private jet that Loeffler jointly purchased with her husband, Jerry Sprecher, who is chair of the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler, who says she bought the plane shortly after her senate appointment last December, uses it for travel between Georgia and Washington, as well as for campaign junkets around the Peach State. She once used it for an 18-minute hop from a central Georgia town to Savannah.

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A Loeffler staffer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last February that the senator had paid for the airplane "out of her pocket," but her financial disclosures suggest that isn't true. Salon's previous reporting found that not only is the plane jointly owned by Loeffler and Sprecher, but the couple may also have availed themselves of a Trump tax-law loophole to write off the $10 million purchase entirely. 

Individuals are not permitted to write off the purchase of a jet; only businesses can do that. Furthermore, Loeffler and Sprecher appear to have purposefully concealed the ownership arrangement, chartering the plane through a company called TVPX Aircraft Solutions, which provides an "owner trust" that offers its clients complete anonymity. The aircraft tracking site Flight Aware says that the jet is "not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator."

Salon uncovered this ownership structure for the plane through a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lookup of certifications for a mandated two-year regulatory test, a matter of public record. The plane's listed operator is not an individual, but a company: Descante Capital Holdings.

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Loeffler's financial disclosures list two companies using variations on that name. According to Loeffler's personal comment on the form, they serve as holding companies for her primary residence — a $10.5 million Atlanta estate also called Descante.

Her disclosures also list a company called Descante Capital LLC, with a description of "family office," whose purpose, according to Loeffler's personal comment, is "administrative and organizational services." Her comment, unlike the other two, does not specify a holding company.

Loeffler's husband also owns a Fulton County jet hangar worth $1 million, which pulls in anywhere between $100,001 and $1 million annually in rent, according to the senator's federal disclosures.

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None of those filings, however, list any specifically called "Descante Capital Holdings" — which the FAA lists as the registered operator of Loeffler's aircraft.

It is unclear whether the couple created a separate entity specifically to operate the jet, or where the apparent reporting error lies: It's possible the FAA registration is incorrect, but it's also possible that Loeffler's omitted this information from her required Senate disclosures.

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If Loeffler withheld an entity on those filings, or knowingly gave false information in them, it would amount to a violation of Senate ethics rules as well as a federal law which makes it a crime to "falsify any information" or "fail to file or report any information" that is required.

Violators "shall" be fined, imprisoned for up to a year or both, according to the statute.

Loeffler, who has circulated an article boasting that she and Sprecher are worth $800 million, has along with her husband developed a sharp monetary acumen from their years working at one of the world's leading financial services providers.

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Salon previously reported that Loeffler, as a senior executive at that company, had marketed a financial instrument involving an offshore holding arrangement that allowed some of the largest banks in the world to circumnavigate U.S. taxes.

While the senator's financial disclosures, which only state ranges of values, do not provide enough detail to peg a net worth beyond $300 million, Forbes estimated in August that the couple could be worth anywhere between $800 million and $1 billion.

On Wednesday, Loeffler solicited campaign donations in a television interview given in the halls of the Senate, an apparent violation of Senate ethics rules and of the federal law that makes it a crime to solicit campaign contributions on federal property.

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A Loeffler campaign spokesperson did not respond to multiple detailed questions for this article.


Roger Sollenberger

Roger Sollenberger is a staff writer at Salon. Follow him on Twitter @SollenbergerRC.

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