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Obviously the day’s most significant news of a truly wretched person leaving their job behind centers around the White House, but there should be room in our hearts to celebrate the same happening elsewhere, too. Not only is Kelly Loeffler no longer a United States Senator once the newly elected Raphael Warnock is sworn in, but according to ESPN’s reporting, the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream are looking to sell, and that whoever buys them would also be buying up Loeffler’s share of the team.
Loeffler, as you might recall, was not elected to her office as one of Georgia’s two U.S. Senators, but was appointed to the position by governor Brian Kemp in December of 2019. She came in second in November 2020’s election, leading to a runoff this January, which she also lost. In that relatively short time that she held office, she declared herself the most conservative politician in the Senate, giddily became a Donald Trump mouthpiece who “never” disagreed with him, blamed China, specifically, for giving Trump and his family coronavirus, was investigated for insider trading related to profiting off of the coronavirus, claimed the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent, introduced a bill that would have required genital exams for girls competing in high school athletics with the intent being to ban transgender athletes, and, in the moment many outside of Georgia were introduced to her, wrote a letter to the WNBA complaining about their focus on the Black Lives Matter movement, then spent time explaining that politics and sports needed to be kept separate. A sitting senator who owns 49 percent of a professional sports team said that, yes.
This whole idea that you can separate the owner of a team and the team themselves is mostly just a deflection deployed whenever it’s necessary, not an actual truth. San Francisco Giants’ owner Charles Johnson has had this defense utilized a few times over the years — previously, he and his wife both donated the maximum to Republican senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who you might remember for her pro-lynching statements, and recently, it was revealed Johnson had also donated the max to Qanon “sympathizing” Republican Lauren Boebert. The donations to Hyde-Smith were reversed when the noise surrounding them got loud enough for the Johnsons to be like, “oh, whoops, we didn’t realize she was that kind of Republican,” and the Boebert revelations got similar treatment, though, with the Giants’ themselves declaring Johnson’s donation to be personal and therefore not a reflection of the team or its beliefs. You know, the one he owns and makes all final decisions on should he choose to do so, the one that isn’t about to release a statement about him without asking him about it first.
Unlike Johnson and the PR folks he employs to clean up his messes, Loeffler didn’t attempt to backtrack (except for about the election being fraudulent — after the Q- and Proud Boy-centered January 6 march on the Capitol Building, Loeffler publicly admitted that maybe she had erred by pulling on that specific thread) on her beliefs and ideals when challenged, but instead, doubled down on nearly all of them. She won’t have to worry much about what the WNBA is doing about Black lives if she sells her substantial portion of the Dream to a new group. Sure, she can just go back to being obscenely wealthy and facing no real consequences for any of her actions or beliefs — again, including her allegedly using insider political knowledge to profit on a coming pandemic — but at least it’ll be a little quieter around here. Sometimes that’s the best we can manage.
Now, that’s not to say that every owner left in the WNBA (or in any league) is a Good Person while Loeffler was bad. She, like Trump himself, was just a lot louder about her awfulness. More confident in her horrid views and ideals, and more willing to openly rather than quietly and insidiously challenge her opponents. There are a whole lot of quieter Charles Johnsons out there in the sports ownership world, the ones you only really remember exist when they have a little oopie like financially supporting a pro-lynching or pro-conspiracy theory cult taking its first baby steps into being a cult capable of violence, so nothing is particularly solved by having one overtly noxious and obnoxious billionaire take a hike. But still, it’s pleasing to see that the WNBA’s players deciding to rally against both Loeffler’s stake in the Dream and her campaign for senate could have a payoff on both counts.
Of course, the Dream aren’t sold yet, but ESPN’s report says she’s expected to “have no association with the franchise after the sale,” and there are currently as many as five bidders for the franchise. The organization has been providing information to potential buyers for months now, and while Loeffler is on the record in the past as saying she would remain part of the team even if new owners came on board, maybe she’s had a change of heart after losing two elections, seeing the Trumpy allyship lead to nothing besides her becoming even more deeply unpopular, and the whole people she thought were her allies storming the Capitol in the hopes of causing harm to, well, anyone they could find, including her thing changed her perspective a bit.
It’s back to just being racist and awful in the non-sports business and social spheres for her: there’s much less of a spotlight there. Much less public judgment. She’ll probably miss that insider trading thing, but these types always have friends in the right places, so you don’t need to worry about her future.