GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler offered Trump $50 million to sink GOP challenger, GOP congressman claimed

Sen. Kelly Loeffler
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

At least two Senate elections Nov. 3 are actually special elections, but while the winner of the Arizona race will take office early, Georgia's contest is almost certainly headed to a January runoff. The appointed incumbent, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), is ahead slightly in the polls, but GOP challenger Rep. Doug Collins (Ga.) and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock are essentially tied in close second place. Loeffler, who is very wealthy, tried to pay President Trump to make Collins go away, according to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a Collins ally.

"This is what the Loeffler team went to the Trump team with," Gaetz said at a campaign event last week, The Daily Beast reported Thursday. "They went and said, 'Look, you guys gotta get Doug Collins out of this race.' … She said, 'I have $50 million for this project, and I can either spend my $50 million getting new voters and helping the Trump campaign, or I can spend that $50 million taking out Doug Collins.'"

Gaetz's version of events isn't the only one, and other sources told The Daily Beast the offer from Loeffler's camp was more nuanced, with money dangled to support other Senate candidates, not Trump, or at least relayed to Trump using Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as an intermediary. "Basically it was to get McConnell and the Senate committee behind Loeffler and to not support Collins,'" a source told The Daily Beast.

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Whatever was said or wasn't said, Trump has remained neutral in the race and Loeffler's husband, New York Stock Exchange Chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, has so far reported giving $1 million to a super PAC supporting Trump and a six-figure contribution to another GOP PAC, Trump Victory, The Washington Examiner reports, noting these checks are nowhere "near the $50 million that Gaetz suggested they would spend." You can read more at The Daily Beast.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.