U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, who is battling to maintain her seat in a runoff election, has donated portions of her salary to anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion groups.
Loeffler, the richest person in either house of Congress, has given $3,800 over the past two financial quarters to Covenant Care Adoptions, a Georgia-based agency that refuses to place children with LGBTQ+ people, Buzzfeed reports. The Republican senator also donated $26,600 to seven so-called crisis pregnancy centers during this period. Such centers claim to provide alternatives to abortion but sometimes present misleading information about the procedure and offer little in the way of supportive services.
Loeffler had pledged to donate her annual Senate salary of $174,000 to Georgia charities because of her wealth. She and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, are major shareholders in Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange. Sprecher is CEO of Intercontinental Exchange and chairman of the NYSE. Forbes estimates the couple's net worth is at least $800 million and possibly as much as $1 billion.
Covenant Care's Statement of Faith, available on its website, says, "We believe that the term 'marriage' has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture." There should be "no intimate sexual activity" outside of such a marriage, the statement says. The organization expects all employees, volunteers, and those who seek to adopt to adhere to these beliefs.
The statement also asserts that gender is immutable: "We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. ... Rejection of one's biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person."
Loeffler did not immediately respond to Buzzfeed's request for comment on her donation to the group and whether she agrees with its policies. In September, Loeffler introduced legislation aimed at preventing transgender girls and women from competing with cisgender females in school sports.
One of the pregnancy centers to which Loeffler has donated is particularly controversial, according to the Buzzfeed article. She gave $3,800 to the Georgia branch of California-based Obria Medical Clinics over the past two quarters. Obria last year won a federal grant of $5.1 million, to be dispensed over three years, under a program designed to fund contraceptive services, which Obria does not offer. The only method of avoiding pregnancy that it endorses is the so-called rhythm method, involving abstinence from vaginal intercourse during ovulation.
The Campaign for Accountability, a liberal watchdog group, contends the grant to Obria violates guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services, but HHS has said it will not require Obria to provide contraceptives.
Obria also promotes an unproven strategy, the administration of the hormone progesterone, that it claims can reverse the effects of RU-486, a medication taken to induce abortion. "There is no evidence this is possible, and no clear understanding of possible side effects," Buzzfeed reports. "Two major studies of abortion reversal were shut down for ethical and safety issues."
In 2015, Obria CEO Kathleen Eaton Bravo gave an interview in which she said Christianity started to "die out" in Europe "when its nations accepted contraception and abortion." She added, "With Europeans having no children, immigrant Muslims came in to replace them, and now the culture of Europe is changing."
Loeffler was appointed to the Senate by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to replace Johnny Isakson, who retired in December 2019 due to health problems. But to continue holding the seat, she had to run in a special election in November to decide who will serve the last two years of Isakson's term. The special election pitted candidates of all parties against each other, but no one won a majority of the vote, as required by Georgia law, so the two top finishers, Loeffler and Democrat Raphael Warnock, will face each other in a runoff January 5. Warnock, an Atlanta minister, is an LGBTQ+ ally.
Loeffler is a staunch Trump ally and has stood by the president as he continues to lie about the 2020 presidential election results, claiming it was rigged against him. Loeffler even called for the Georgia secretary of State to resign after he disputed the claims of election fraud.
A runoff in Georgia's other U.S. Senate race will be on the same ballot, with Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff up against Republican incumbent David Perdue. If Democrats win both seats, the Senate will have a 50-50 split between the two parties (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats), and Democrats will effectively control the chamber, as Kamala Harris, as vice president, will cast the deciding vote in case of a tie. That would be key to the passage of the Equality Act and other progressive legislation.