March 2020 Some political shenanigans are so smelly that even Covid19 cannot keep them out of the pundit chats and otherwise endless palaver over how brave or scared we should be. Our newest U.S. Senator from Georgia has managed to get herself featured in a more than a few televised snippets regarding an alleged misdeed, one which can only be committed by a person connected in both the high echelons of corporate finance and national government. My Senator Kelly Loeffler is such a person. She left her corporate executive job in a firm she and her CEO husband controlled, but she left him to manage a finance enterprise so vast that being Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange was only one of its percs. Her first opportunity to be a public servant came when the Governor surprised no one by giving her the job of being one of the two people who will represent us ten million or so Georgia boys and girls.
I do realize that Mrs. Loeffler has taken quite a pay cut to become a public servant. Although I have not seen her tax returns, I do realize she just might be like our president, a person whose incomes and assets may be too great to be scrutinized by ordinary mortals like myself. Whatever her paycheck and bond coupons and dividend returns might be, I can be sure the total amount has been far greater than the paltry amount she is currently being compensated as a Senator, less than a quarter of a million. Still she surprised no one by accepting the Governor’s invitation to replace the ailing senior Senator Johnny Isakson
She got to the Senate in time to vote on whether to call witnesses, and became a crucial vote for not doing that. The vote was 51 to 49. If she had voted to hear from John Bolton or some of the other key witnesses, the deadlock created would have been unprecedented. Not all of the Republicans concurred, and newly installed Kelly Loeffler had words for at least one of them. She said the Senator from Utah had voted for calling witnesses “to appease the left”, a motive which has not been in visible supply in statewide Utah politics for many decades.
Then came the virus. As a Senator she was given a closed door briefing about the virus and its likely future in January although the public, including the stock investing portions of that public, did not receive such information until weeks later. As an investor she promptly dumped much stock, thereby saving herself the huge losses that other investors suffered weeks later when the economic threats of the pandemic became apparent. Now it turns out that using corporate insider information to manipulate stock sales can be a crime. But that is not the aspect of this tale of hide and seek that disturbs me. My Senator did not warn me of pending difficulties she knew about precisely because she was representing me and millions like me.
An old adage in the army holds that “Rank has its privileges,” and another that “Rank has its responsibilities.” In this situation I don’t mind her learning about our common peril first. But I do mind her not warning those of us she is supposed to represent. And I mind her impugning the motives of an experienced public servant she scarcely knows and whose political courage deserves respect. I don’t want her to go to jail, but I do want her to stop pretending she represents me.