Georgia Republican David Perdue has faced intense scrutiny over the last year for trading stocks while in office, including allegations that he used information that he gleaned in Senate hearings to buy pharmaceutical shares and sell others in live entertainment before the shutdown occurred. Now, a New York Times analysis published Wednesday reveals the scale of his stock trading as a senator, adding more examples of questionable dealing in office.
According to the report, Perdue has made up close to a third of all Senate trades reported since 2014, the year he came into office. He traded stocks, bonds, and funds about 2,600 times in six years — equal to the combined trading volume of the next five most-active traders in the Senate. While there’s no evidence that Perdue traded on nonpublic information, which is a potential crime, there are new ethical questions surrounding his decision to trade where he legislates. On close to 30 occasions during his time on the Senate cybersecurity panel, Perdue bought and sold stock in a cybersecurity firm that signed a $30 million contract in his home state of Georgia. And as a member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs subcommittee, Perdue bought and sold shares of several firms that the body oversaw, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America.
Perdue was one of a handful of lawmakers accused in March of using intelligence from Senate hearings to inform their financial decisions. (Perdue’s fellow Georgia senator, Kelly Loeffler, has also faced allegations of using nonpublic information she gleaned as a senator to inform her investment strategy.) The most notable red flag involves a stock purchase in a company that makes medical equipment on the same day that senators received a classified briefing on the coronavirus. (Perdue has denied attending the session.) And in February, just before Pfizer announced its intention to develop a COVID vaccine, he purchased $245,000 in stocks in the pharmaceutical company. He also sold up to $165,000 in stocks of the casino firm Caesar Entertainment prior to the shutdown and economic crash. Last week, the Times reported that the Department of Justice questioned him over his prolific trading, but apparently cleared him of wrongdoing.
Even more emerged after that. In September, the Daily Beast reported that in 2017, two weeks after easing regulations for prepaid debit cards, he bought stock in a card-payment processor with significant business in the predatory industry. A report from the same outlet in November revealed that Purdue began to purchase stock in a company making submarine parts — just before taking charge of a subcommittee overseeing Navy spending in January 2019. Once on the subcommittee, he then sold the stock for tens of thousands of dollars in profit after working on a bill that required the Navy to purchase specialized products from the firm in question.
In addition to the DOJ investigation and the increased scrutiny over the very idea of senators being able to hold individual stocks, the post-election revelations could hurt both Perdue and fellow Georgia senator Kelly Loeffler as they face runoffs in January that will decide control of the Senate.