GOP senator loaned her own campaign $5 million — and she's charging interest

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Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) is set to earn twice as much money from interest on a loan to her own campaign as most Georgia families make in an entire year.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) stands to make more than $120,000 on a loan she made to her own Senate campaign.

At the end of December, Loeffler loaned her campaign $5 million, according to her campaign's most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission. And she is charging the campaign 2.41% interest on that loan, meaning Loeffler could earn $120,500 over the course of 2020.

That's more than twice what the median household in Georgia earns over the course of a year.

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The FEC filing was flagged by American Bridge, a progressive opposition research organization.

There is nothing illegal about a candidate charging interest on a loan to their campaign, Beth Rotman, director of money in politics and ethics at Common Cause, said in a Wednesday phone interview.

However, Rotman described the move by Loeffler as "tacky." She said that it is not uncommon for candidates to loan their campaigns money but was not sure how many of them charged interest.

Under current law, candidates can charge up to "fair market value interest rates," Rotman said. She added that candidates are free to loan their campaigns money at no interest if they desire.

Rotman emphasized that there is nothing illegal about Loeffler's decision to charge her campaign interest on the loan, but added that the "bigger problem is that we don't want a political system dominated by millionaires."

The Loeffler campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Loeffler was appointed to the Senate after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) retired at the end of 2019. A multimillionaire GOP donor, Loeffler pledged to spend $20 million of her own money to defend the seat in the November 2020 election.

If Loeffler loans her campaign an additional $15 million at the same interest rate, she could make a total of $482,000 off of interest paid to her by her own campaign.

Leoffler already has a challenger from her own party. Rep. Doug Collins, a conservative Trump loyalist, announced in late January he would be running for the same seat.

On the Democratic side, Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Atlanta's famed Ebenezer Baptist Church, entered the race in late January. Warnock already received the endorsement of Stacey Abrams, the popular Democrat who narrowly lost her 2018 bid to be Georgia's governor.

Matt Lieberman, a Democrat and the son of former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), already entered the race, raising $700,000 in the final quarter of 2017.

As a special election, there is no primary in this race. Instead, if none of the candidates receive more than 50% of the vote on Nov. 3, a runoff election between the top two candidates will take place in early January.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.