On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported new details about the arrangement that former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., used to travel on a private jet — and obscure the cost of it to taxpayers, even as she claimed she was saving the government money.
"When former Sen. Kelly Loeffler was asked on the 2020 campaign trail about the recently purchased private jet she was flying around Georgia, the former CEO and multimillionaire senator defended the expense as saving taxpayer dollars," reported Roger Sollenberger. "But previously unreported corporate filings reveal something that Loeffler's campaign disclosures did not: She was paying her husband's company to operate the jet. And, according to experts, those campaign filings might not have been correctly reported, raising questions of whether she purposefully concealed the arrangement from the public."
Loeffler's campaign filings had shown she personally spent $700,000 for travel — but they hadn't shown the recipient of the money was Intercontinental Exchange, a company owned by her husband Jerry Sprecher, who owns the New York Stock Exchange. The company was reimbursed $650,000 for operation of the plane, and another $50,000 for use of a hangar.
It is theoretically possible that this arrangement saved taxpayers money — but it likely did the opposite, according to the report: "The 2017 Trump tax cuts created astounding loopholes for executive jet owners, effectively turning private aircraft into flying tax shelters. While it's impossible to know how Loeffler and Sprecher treated their purchase without seeing their tax returns, one of the law's carve-outs offered a 100 percent write-off for private jet buyers."
"Instead of saving taxpayer dollars on public flights, Loeffler was using an expensive private jet and, ultimately, saving money for her husband's company," said the report. "In essence, Loeffler was paying herself to use the jet, billing taxpayers for the plane, and, at best, obscuring the payments—and, at worst, just lying about them. The tangle of interests suggests the picture of a financial undertow, a replenishing cash flow hidden below the surface. Experts say it's the kind of feedback loop that financial disclosure laws are specifically designed to reveal."
Loeffler was appointed in 2020 by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the vacancy left by former Sen. Johnny Isakson. Both she and her fellow Sen. David Perdue came under heavy scrutiny for lucrative stock trades that critics suspected were based on non-public information about COVID-19 briefings in the Senate. Both senators were defeated in the 2021 runoff elections.