Sen. Kelly Loeffler has been in office three days and she still hasn't set up a press page. Doesn't she know that the most dangerous place in Washington is supposed to be between a member of Congress and a camera? (via @GovKemp)
People,  Politics

Kelly Loeffler Senate appointment win for cryptocurrency industry

Industry analyst Mati Greenspan said the CEO of Bakkt will be ‘a friend of crypto’ in Congress as digital asset regulations are written

Kelly Loeffler, the soon-to-be-former head of digital currency infrastructure firm Bakkt, has been appointed to the U.S. Senate by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican.

Loeffler was formally appointed on Dec. 4., although it had been talked about for some time. She will replace Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who is retiring for health reasons. 

“This is really good news for crypto regulation in the United States,” Mati Greenspan, founder of Quantum Economics, told Modern Consensus via Telegram. “She’s certainly a friend of crypto and is one of the most influential people in the space.”

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee has spent a lot of time on the issue of cryptocurrency regulation in the wake of Facebook’s Libra stablecoin proposal. That has been heavily attacked by Democrats, notably Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). He accused facebook of “breathtaking arrogance” and said it wants to create its “own for-profit version of the Federal Reserve.”

While Republicans on the committee were less hostile, they remained concerned—as do many of the world’s central bankers—that Libra could threaten central banks’ control of currency. 

Many members of Congress first began learning about cryptocurrency during the Libra debates and hearings. That gave them an initial view of the industry through a project viewed with either hostility or cautious interest mixed with skepticism. Even President Donald Trump chimed in on Twitter, saying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies “are not money, and [their] value is highly volatile and based on thin air.”

That makes Loeffler’s voice particularly important, according to Greenspan, who until recently was senior market analyst at social trading and brokerage firm eToro

“In a place of darkness even a small flame can create a lot of light, “Greenspan said. “Loeffler is bright torch that can easily illuminate the entire U.S. government and show them the value of Bitcoin.”

Bakkt Up

Loeffler will step down as CEO of Bakkt before she is sworn in, according to a release issued by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the digital asset infrastructure firm’s owner.

No replacement was named, but the release said, “Bakkt’s senior management team [will continue] to work closely with the ICE senior management team, building on the innovations and progress achieved in the past year.”

Her tenure at Bakkt wasn’t flawless. It’s cryptocurrency futures exchange launched with a fizzle in September. While day one saw only a few dozen futures contracts traded, on Dec. 3 Bakkt tweeted that 2,328 contracts had been traded that day. It hit an all-time high of 5,671 on Nov. 27. 

Loeffler joined ICE in 2002, becoming a member of its executive management committee, it said. In that time, she oversaw investor relations, marketing, and communications. She is married to Jeffrey Sprecher, the CEO of ICE.

A fight to stay

Loeffler intends to hold onto the seat after a special election in November 2020. She immediately gave $20 million of her own money to kickstart her campaign, Politico reported.

Calling herself “a life-long conservative,” Loeffler made the traditional “I am not a career politician,” pitch. 

“Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve been building businesses, taking risks, and creating jobs,” Loeffler said in a statement. “I haven’t spent my life trying to get to Washington. [T]here are a few things folks are going to find out about me: I’m pro-Second Amendment, pro-military, pro-Wall, and pro-Trump… I’m strongly pro-life.”

Still, she may have an uphill battle. The appointment was made over the objections of President Donald Trump, who wanted Rep. Doug Collins (R-Geo.), a strong supporter, appointed to the open seat.  

The response from the President’s core supporters in Georgia was strong enough that Gov. Kemp said, “Frankly, I could care less what the political establishment thinks,” on his personal Twitter account the day after Thanksgiving.

Rep. Collins may challenge her in the special election. The November election will be open to all Republican comers, so either a head-to-head battle with Collins or a free-for-all are possible.

Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised Loeffler the full support of the party’s campaign infrastructure, Politico said. 

McConnell added that he expected her to have “total support from the Republican conference.”

Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson owns no cryptocurrencies.

Subscribe to MODERN CONSENSUS Newsletter