Potential Dem Senate Candidate's Business Files for Bankruptcy Protection

(Updated) Family company has to eliminate more than $300 million in debt

Sarah Riggs Amico / Getty Images
August 7, 2019

The trucking business led by Georgia Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico, who filed paperwork last month to formally explore a possible run against Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.), filed for bankruptcy court protection late Tuesday.

Amico ran for lieutenant governor in Georgia in 2018, but lost to Geoff Duncan. She is executive chairwoman of her family trucking company, Jack Cooper Ventures, which has executive offices in Kennesaw, Ga.

Jack Cooper Ventures filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday and plans major restructuring. The Georgia Democrat and her family will likely have to give up voting control of the business and sell all of its assets to avoid cutting jobs. The company has to eliminate more than $300 million in debt, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which cited pension liabilities as a major reason for the filing.

Jack Cooper Ventures also would limit its potential liability for the Central States Pension Fund, a teetering nationwide pension supported by 1,400 employers and covering nearly 400,000 union workers and retirees. Central States has become a prime example of overextended U.S. retirement systems with soaring funding needs, a growing base of a retirees, fewer active workers and concerns about running short of money needed to pay promised benefits.

In a securities filing two years ago, the company had said its liability for the fund could rise to more than $1 billion if it attempted to withdraw from the plan. Under the plan worked out before the bankruptcy filing, the trucking company would stay in Central States, but move to a part of the fund not saddled with the same level of troubles.

"This is a difficult process but this is also a very good story about how you save jobs and put a company on the right path," Amico told the Journal-Constitution. "We are seeing a lot of industry challenges right now, and we have a lot of debt we would like to take off the balance sheet."

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents more than 2,200 jobs at the company, said the changes at Jack Cooper Ventures would save "nearly 3,000 jobs at the company." The approval of union leaders are needed for the changes. The negotiating committee said a rejection of  the offer "will lead to the company being sold piecemeal or liquidated resulting in the loss of virtually all jobs."

Amico launched her exploratory committee last month and has made several other moves behind the scenes to prepare a run for office. She has had conversations with Cornell Belcher, a progressive pollster; Perkins Coie, a law firm used by many Democratic campaigns; and EMILY's List, a pro-choice PAC. She is expected to hire several former aides of failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, including communications specialist Abigail Collazo and senior adviser Karen Finney, according to the Journal-Constitution.

UPDATE: 5:50 P.M.: This article previously stated Amico personally filed for bankruptcy, but it has been corrected to make clear it was her company that did.