In late March, with the stock market reeling from the effects of coronavirus, an explosive story took over the news: Members of the U.S. Senate, who had received early briefings on the potential effects of the coronavirus, had dumped stock positions, allowing them to avoid massive losses. No one had ditched more than newly appointed Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler, who got rid of more than $20 million of shares from late January to March. Three months after becoming a Senator, Loeffler was already a poster child for Washington swampiness.
But despite all the bad headlines, the truth was that Loeffler hadn’t gotten much richer from those stock trades. The reason: She was already extremely rich, worth far more than most realized. Many reports have noted that Loeffler, 49, and her husband, 65, hold a roughly $500 million stake in a company called Intercontinental Exchange, which serves as the parent to the New York Stock Exchange. But after accounting for more than a decade of share sales and dividend payments, while also taking a closer look at Loeffler’s financial disclosure report, Securities and Exchange Commission filings and property records, Forbes estimates that Loeffler and her husband are worth at least $800 million.
If they’ve invested wisely over the years, they could be worth as much as $1 billion. (Representatives for Loeffler and Sprecher did not comment on the value of their fortune.) Either way, it’s enough to make Loeffler, in all likelihood, the richest person on Capitol Hill. Other contenders include Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida whose fortunes, based on a review of financial disclosures filed with the Senate, could exceed $275 million apiece.
The story behind Loeffler’s fortune begins in 1997 with her husband, Jeff Sprecher. Then 42, Sprecher was working at a successful power plant developer and living in Beverly Hills, California, when he negotiated to buy a struggling Georgia company called Continental Power Exchange. His goal? Build out a platform that would allow traders to easily buy and sell energy commodities online.
In 2000, Sprecher took Continental and formed Intercontinental Exchange, also called ICE. He brought on companies like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as early shareholders, giving them equity in the business in exchange for promises to execute a minimum number of transactions through Sprecher’s platform each year. “I figured my own personal stake, or net worth, or reward that came out of it, would work out just fine as long as the company did well,” Sprecher said in a 2018 podcast. And it did. At first, Enron dominated the online energy trading market, but when its accounting scandal broke, Sprecher’s business took off.