Kelly Loeffler, the CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) -owned cryptocurrency derivatives market Bakkt, has been appointed to the U.S. Senate by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and will take office on January 1. She will be the first cryptocurrency CEO and second woman in Georgia to ever have served in the Senate.
The soon-to-be Republican senator will step down from her role at Bakkt before she is sworn in, according to a press release issued by ICE, but it is still unclear who will fill her position. ICE declined requests for further comment.
Loeffler will serve in the Senate until January 2021, filling the seat of current Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), whose term doesn't end until 2023 but is vacating his seat due to health problems. Loeffler will have to run for election next year in order to continue serving, which she has already confirmed to CNN she plans to do.
Kemp's appointment of first-time candidate Loeffler, who is also co-owner of Atlanta's WNBA team, is said to be part of an effort to make the Georgia GOP more appealing to women — though it's also at striking odds with Donald Trump, who reportedly urged him to appoint Representative Doug Collins (R-Ga.), a four-term congressman and loyal Trump ally.
In his announcement Wednesday, Kemp depicted Loeffler as a political "outsider," while she pledged her loyalty to the conservative party.
"I haven't spent my life trying to get to Washington," she said. "But here's what folks are gonna find out about me: I'm a lifelong conservative. Pro-Second Amendment. Pro-military. Pro-wall. And pro-Trump. I make no apologies for my conservative values, and will proudly support President Trump's conservative judges."
Loeffler joined ICE, which is based in Atlanta, in 2002 and oversaw investor relations, marketing, and communication until the launch of Bakkt, its bitcoin subsidiary, in August 2018. The company launched its physically-settled bitcoin futures contracts earlier this year. In the coming weeks, it plans to launch options and cash-settled futures contracts. It's also developing a consumer mobile app for bitcoin payments, to be launched in the first half of 2020.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported on Kemp's pick Friday.