On December 4, 2019, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp introduced Kelly Loeffler to be the next Senator to replace retiring Georgia Statesman Johnny Isakson. Isakson announced his retirement midway through his term on August 28, 2019. In this narrative, we will look at why Isakson picked August to retire and we will ask the question, should there be a full investigation into Loeffler’s appointment to the Senate?
On this December day, Governor Kemp spun everything in Georgia politics out of control. Everything surrounding the Loeffler pick rests squarely on the shoulders of Governor Kemp and I will explain my reasoning:
We need to ask why pick Kelly Loeffler. What was Kemp thinking? I’m sure he knew picking her as his choice would not sit well with his base. Loeffler is married to Jeffery C. Sprecher. Who is Sprecher? He is CEO of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), owner, yes owner, of the New York stock exchange as well as several Commodity Exchanges worldwide. ICE also has a super PAC they use to contribute to many Republicans and Democrats alike. For example, he made contributions to Republicans, like Senator Mitt Romney, who just voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump and California Congresswoman “Impeach 45” Democrat, Maxine Waters. ICE PAC contributions to Majority Forward, from their website reads,
“Majority Forward is a Democratic Party-aligned advocacy group that campaigns against Republicans and conservative causes. Intercontinental Exchange PAC, gave it $20,000 in 2016.”
The same year Trump was running for president. Somehow Kelly and Jeff missed giving Trump any money in his 2016 campaign.
So why would Kemp appoint someone who would immediately become the wealthiest person in congress? Why appoint someone who owns three private jets that may total up word of 75 million dollars? Why appoint someone who owns a WNBA team, knowing that the WNBA has a sponsor relationship with Planned Parenthood? At one game, Loeffler honored Stacey Abrams at the same time she was running against Brian Kemp for Governor. We have to keep asking why? I think I know why, please keep reading.
Now let me be clear, this article is not an endorsement of Congressman Doug Collins to have been picked for the open senate seat. However, Collins sure was the favorite pick of President Trump, as referenced on two occasions before the Loeffler pick: once in person when Trump visited Atlanta, another by phone encouraging Kemp to pick Doug Collins. I understand Kemp may not like the optics of Trump picking Georgia’s next Senator but why snub the President when he asked for someone he trusted to go fight for him against the Democrats?
It’s not like Trump “ever did anything” to help Kemp when he was running for governor. Remember, just days before the Republican Primary when the President tweeted out
“Brian is tough on crime, strong on the border and illegal immigration. He loves our Military and our Vets and protects our Second Amendment. I give him my full and total endorsement,”
I bet Casey Cagle will never forget it! I know, because I was the first one with a video camera who bumped into Cagle after Trump sent out that tweet endorsing Kemp. Just days later Kemp won a runoff to become the Republican nominee to take on Stacey Abrams. Remember, just days before the general election Trump landed Air Force One in Macon, Ga. to an estimated crowd of 25-35 thousand supporters. They showed up to see President Trump on stage with Brian Kemp, millions watching nationwide. That day, Trump did his Republican duty of helping Republicans get elected. On that day, Trump pushed Kemp to a national figure.
Kemp went on to beat Stacey Abrams by about 50 thousand votes and became Governor of the State of Georgia. President Trump did his job helping Republicans get elected. So why would Kemp not be excited to return the favor and appoint Doug Collins as the President requested. Yes, the President is asking and few turn down the President’s requests…so why did Kemp? Just ask Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis took one ride on Air Force One and went from an unrecognizable candidate to Governor. Wonder if he would respect the President’s request in the same situation?
Kemp and Loeffler took a Sunday “drive” on one of her Intercontinental Exchange Jets to visit President Trump. One wonders what the conversation was like during that hour and a half flight to D.C.? Maybe something like this,
Kemp…”don’t worry Kelly, Trump likes me and once I explain to him why I am going to pick you he will be fine. When he thinks about how much money you bring to the table he will be fine”. Kelly…”Trump better be OK with me being picked…Brian, you know the deal….” Maybe something like that.
The Wall Street Journal published that the meeting didn’t go well.
“Georgia Governor, Trump Appear at Odds Over Senate Pick. But the private huddle turned tense and ended quickly, according to people familiar with the meeting. Mr. Trump prefers Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican who has vocally defended the president during the impeachment process, and he told Mr. Kemp that he would be taking a risk by appointing the politically untested Ms. Loeffler. At one point Mr. Trump questioned why they were holding the meeting if Mr. Kemp had made his decision.”
“Mr. Kemp left the state unannounced and kept the meeting secret from some top aides.”
“The governor’s office declined to comment for this article before publication. After the article was posted, Kemp spokeswoman Candice Broce said in a statement: “Governor Kemp plans to appoint a strong supporter of the President who will end the impeachment circus and advance conservative policies that Keep America Great.”
What was the mood on the plane ride back to Atlanta? Maybe something like this:
Kelly… “Brian, I don’t care what the President said…you know the deal.” Jeffery…”yes Brian, you know the deal.” Brian..”.yes I am fully aware of the deal.”
We need to know if Kelly’s husband was actually on the plane. We need to know who else went on that Sunday trip to D.C. We need to know why Kemp needed to get out of town without his top advisers. We need not forget they took the trip on Kelly’s private plane. President Trump even called Kemp Monday to reiterate his pick for Senate, Doug Collins.
Why is, what some would ask, Kemp so “hell-bent” to appoint Loeffler? Wow…the pressure Kemp is now under but he continues to press forward with Loeffler.
What deal you ask…we will get to that but first, we must lay all the groundwork.
Let’s look at the next stage that I call “The Kemp Smoke Screen.” On September 17, 2019, Kemp launched a website asking all Georgians who met the qualifications and wanted to be considered to replace Johnny Isakson as the next Senator, to send him a resume. From the website,
“We will carefully vet the applicants and choose a person who best reflects our values, our state, and our vision for the future,”
A real Mr. Smith goes to Washington. It is Kemp’s Georgia Constitutional duty to appoint someone to fill the Senate vacancy until the next scheduled election.
So Kemp’s plan to lead every Georgian to believe that they could be the next senator, was roundly applauded. National media took notice. Kemp could send a real Mr.Smith to Washington and not some establishment politician or better yet, not the highest bidder. You know that kind of negotiating that landed former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in jail for trying to sell Barack Obama’s senate seat even though he didn’t complete the deal? Question…was there a deal with Loeffler? Over 500 applications submitted, we could have had a mom, dad, auto mechanic, teacher, former Congressman, and maybe even a talk show host. This looked like the Brian Kemp that the anti-establishment supporters voted for in 2018.
One of the 500 applicants was Congressman Doug Collins. Collins applied on September 19th, 2019, just 2 days after Kemp launched the website. From the website:
“The deadline to apply for a gubernatorial appointment to the U.S. Senate was Monday, November 18, 2019 at 5 PM.”
Guess who applied in the final hour of the final day? Yes, you guessed it – Miss Kelly Loeffler.
Now here is where we need to ask questions concerning the “Great Brian Kemp Smoke Screen.” There needs to be a full investigation into Kemp’s process of picking Loeffler as Senator and what happened to the other candidates. We need to ask: Who was on the team that reviewed the applications for consideration? How many applicants were interviewed? Was there a two-part interview process? Provide a list of names who were interviewed by the Governor? Did Kemp interview Doug Collins? If Kemp held interviews, who was in the interviews? How many interviews did Loeffler have with the Governor after she applied? Was Loeffler’s husband, Jeffery Sprecher in any of the interviews? How many meetings did Kemp have with Loeffler and Sprecher together or separately before she applied? When and where? So many unanswered questions.
On January 6th, 2020 Kemp announced to Georgia citizens he had chosen Kelly Loeffler to be the next Senator. In a photo-op, Kemp invited women from the Republican Party. My push is to make Kelly acceptable to the Republican Party, statewide. No, Mr. Smith was not going to Washington and it was now time to sell Kelly to Georgians. The Republican Party says they have been losing suburban Atlanta Republican women and Kelly would bring them back to the Party. It was now time to sell Kelly as the most Pro-life, second amendment, pro-Trump conservative in Georgia. Just about an hour after the appointment the emails started going out. The same campaign consulting group that handled the Kemp campaign got the job to handle the “Kelly” campaign. Parlay Marketing Partners, LLC, Joel McElhannon and Ryan Mahoney were chosen. Kelly immediately put up 20 million dollars for her campaign and Parlay was more than ready to start creating their candidate and selling her to the people as “you know, I’m the pro-Trump, pro-life conservative, Kelly”. We need to know when they were hired. It must have taken a week to prep the rollout beginning just hours after Kemp announced Loeffler. Did Kemp complete the deal that day? Was there a deal? The Governor could clear this all up with transparency and a thorough investigation.
Now let’s look at what “could be” the deal. Let’s look at Hart AgStrong and the sale to Perdue AgriBusness. This may be all smoke.
Remember during the Republican Governor race run off when it was revealed that a company Kemp was associated with defaulted on a half-million-dollar loan that Kemp personally guaranteed for Hart AgStrong. From the AJC,
“The lawsuit has been filed by RLP Investments and its owner, Toccoa resident Rick Phillips. While Hart AgStrong CEO Robert Davis, Kemp and the company itself are all listed as defendants in the lawsuit, the investor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this month that Kemp was responsible for the cash.“He’s the only person I ever dealt with,” Phillips said. “I loaned this money to Brian Kemp. I loaned it to Hart AgStrong at the request of Brian Kemp, and he personally guaranteed it.”
From another AJC article,
“When it needed a loan, Hart AgStrong, a grain processor, partly owned by Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, put up as collateral, thousands of bushels of canola and sunflower seeds. The problem was, AgStrong didn’t own them. The company’s actions “may be a felony under Georgia law,” an attorney for the state Department of Agriculture wrote to AgStrong in April. The letter threatened to revoke AgStrong’s licenses to do business with Georgia farmers, collect a $70,000 fine, and liquidate the company’s assets to compensate farmers.”
Kemp said during the election this was all politics, basically nothing to see here. So what happened to the possible felonies and the lawsuit for the default on the loan? From the AP on January 23, 2019
“Brian Kemp quietly settles lawsuit over bad business loan just prior to taking office, Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp quietly settled a lawsuit that said he owed $500,000 for a loan he negotiated and guaranteed for a struggling agricultural company. Court documents show a consent order between Kemp, the company Hart AgStrong and financier Rick Phillips was signed on January 8 and filed in Gwinnett County Superior Court on Jan. 11, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported .Kemp was sworn in as Georgia’s 83rd governor three days later. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.”
Quietly, just days before being sworn the deal is still undisclosed to the public. If the lawsuit would have been settled after becoming governor maybe the terms would have to be disclosed. So what’s the big deal…he settled the lawsuit. Wonder what RLP Investments owner Rick Phillips could say about this settlement. Who paid off the loan? If Kemp walked into Phillips’s office and paid off the loan why not go public? That may have looked good for the governor. Why the quietly undisclosed settlement?
Now let’s look at the sale of Hart AgStrong to Perdue AgriBusiness. Johnny Isakson retired August 28th, 2019. On August 5th, Perdue AgriBusiness closed the deal acquiring the assets of Hart AgStrong LLC. Was it just a coincidence that Isakson retired weeks after the “deal” was complete? Is it possible that this is what Johnny was waiting for before announcing his retirement? We understand the sale made “everyone” whole…paid in full.
From the AJC on December 11th,
“A struggling seed-crushing business partly owned by Gov. Brian Kemp, who was at the center of a years-long legal battle was recently sold to an agricultural giant for an undisclosed price. Perdue AgriBusiness bought Hart AgStrong in August, saying in a disclosure statement, that the company’s two seed-crushing plants will help supply factories in Middle Georgia and Virginia”…again with the undisclosed price”.
So what does this have to do with Kemp appointing Loeffler to the senate? Maybe nothing but let’s look at Loeffler and her husband’s company Intercontinental Exchange. I don’t pretend to understand the commodity markets or global agriculture clearinghouses. From the ICE website, “Futures, options and OTC markets and clearinghouses, strategically designed to deliver global scale and local infrastructure across asset classes wherever our customers trade, invest or manage risk.” “Exchange-traded futures and options Agriculture” I understand they are the largest agricultural commodity trading company in the world. Wonder if they know someone at Perdue AgriBusiness? I wonder what would have made Perdue AgriBusiness interested in failing Hart AgStrong? Just wondering…
Now how long has Kemp known Loeffler and Sprecher? Kemp was Keynote speaker at the 30th anniversary Buckhead Coalition lunch in February 2019 where Sprecher was in attendance.
Another meeting came just weeks before Isakson announced his retirement. From AJC,
“At a black-tie gala for Georgia 4-H in August, finance executive Kelly Loeffler told the crowd of farmers, instructors and students how she got her start — tending soybeans and corn and caring for cattle on her family’s farm in rural Illinois. At the head table with Loeffler and her husband, Intercontinental Exchange CEO Jeff Sprecher, was another power couple they didn’t know well…Gov. Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp. It was just a couple of weeks before U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson would announce his retirement.”
Wonder what they talked about at the head table that night. Did Kemp know weeks in advance that Isakson would retire?
Was there a deal in place? I don’t know but there is a lot of smoke.
So what if Kemp would have picked Mr. Smith and let the cards “fall where they may?” Mr. Smith, Doug Collins and Kelly Loeffler would be running for senate and maybe Mr. Smith would win re-election. We will never know because Governor Brian Kemp is trying to tell the people of Georgia that he picked the senator and that is final. Something seems terribly wrong!
Now Collins is in the race and being blamed for splitting the Republican party, really? If anyone is splitting the party that would be Brian P. Kemp. Check back as we look at the creation of a candidate. Loeffler, NRSC, Mitch McConnel, endorsements…
I think my first amendment rights allow me to ask, do I think there was a deal, yes. Do I think there should be a full investigation surrounding the possible deal, yes. Do I think possibly part of the deal is to get Loeffler re-elected, yes. One question I have is how did Congressman Doug Collins turn into the bad guy in all this?