According to a new report published by The New York Times, Senator David Perdue was the most prolific stock trader in the United States Congress. According to data compiled by Senate Stock Watcher, a nonpartisan website that aggregates publicly available information on lawmakers’ trading, and found Perdue’s transactions accounted for nearly a third of all Senate trades reported in the past six years. His 2,596 trades, mostly in stocks but also in bonds and funds, roughly equal the combined trading volume of the next five most active traders in the Senate.
Citing a report California-based company called FireEye, Perdue was among the senators who asked this spring that the National Guard prepare to protect against such data breaches. Not only was the issue important to Mr. Perdue, so was FireEye, a federal contractor that provides malware detection and threat-intelligence services. Beginning in 2016, the senator bought and sold FireEye stock 61 times, at one point owning as much as $250,000 worth of shares in the company.
Additionally, as a member of the Senate banking, housing, and urban affairs committee since 2017, Perdue bought and sold shares of financial companies his panel oversaw, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Regions Financial.
Perdue has said his trades are handled by outside advisers. However, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had investigated the senator for possible insider trading in his sale of more than $1 million worth of stock in a financial-analysis firm, Cardlytics. Ultimately, prosecutors declined to bring charges. Although his instructions to Goldman Sachs to sell Cardlytics suggest that he directed at least some trades.
“Senator Perdue doesn’t handle the day-to-day decisions of his portfolio — all of his holdings are managed by outside financial advisers who make recommendations, set strategy, and manage trades and personal finances,” said John Burke, the communications director for the senator’s re-election campaign.
Robert Hutchinson, Perdue’s wealth manager at Goldman Sachs, declined to comment in the Times story.
Even though there is no direct law prohibiting lawmakers from owning and trading stocks, the action of trading stocks does allow the public to raise questions regarding conflicts. Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff addressed those conflicts during a Monday afternoon press conference outside the I.B.E.W. 813 headquarters, south of Atlanta.
“He was dumping shares in Cardlytics in January after what appeared to be private conversations with senior executives of that company. As we know he was buying shares in manufacturers of vaccines and medical equipment and dumping his casino shares while he had access to classified briefings on COVID-19 and was claiming in public that this disease was no deadlier than the flu,” Ossoff said.
In a new ad, Perdue fires back at Ossoff and his critics.
“Jon Ossoff believes if you repeat a lie enough, people just might believe it,” the ad says. “But Ossoff’s stock trade attacks on David Perdue are totally false.”
“Senator Perdue wasn’t even at that briefing. Perdue was cleared by the bipartisan senate ethics committee, the SEC and DOJ,” the ad says. “Perdue was totally exonerated. Jon Ossoff, you just can’t believe him.”
The Associated Press has reported that “there is no definitive proof that Perdue acted on information gained as a member of Congress or through his long-standing relationship with company officials.”
“On day one I will place my stock portfolio in a blind trust. Sen. Perdue still refuses to do this by the way,” Ossoff said Monday.