Perdue Prefers Not To Debate These Nine Financial Scandals

Sen. David Perdue

Sen. David Perdue

Photo by Gage Skidmore/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) has in recent days come under renewed scrutiny for his financial activities, including trades in his stock portfolio.

With accusations of insider trading and other violations, Perdue has a lot going on in the lead-up to the runoff election for his Senate seat in Georgia on Jan. 5.

Perdue's Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, blasted the incumbent on social media Wednesday night, tweeting: "We've got a political system where money buys access. If Goldman Sachs' stock were plunging overnight, David Perdue would be on the first jet to DC, passing a bill within 6 hours. When it comes to regular people, the Senate hasn't passed any economic relief since early summer."

And Perdue isn't offering any explanations.

Since a video of Ossoff slamming Perdue's COVID response during their Oct. 28 debate went viral, Perdue has refused to debate Ossoff again.

In the clip, Ossoff suggests Perdue was too busy dodging insider trading probes to look after the health of Georgians.

Perdue responded by canceling the final debate before the general election, attending a Trump rally instead.

He also refused to attend a pre-runoff Dec. 6 debate at the Atlanta Press Club, blaming the media for not holding Ossoff "accountable" for embarrassing him.

Here's a rundown of some of the top financial scandals in which Perdue's been embroiled during his time in the Senate.

1. He Sold Cardlytics Stock After Emails With CEO.

In late January, after an email exchange with the CEO of Cardlytics, a financial company, Perdue sold $1 million worth of the company's stock, just six weeks before its chief executive announced he'd be stepping down and its market value plummeted.

Two days before the sale, the CEO, Scott Grimes, sent a personal email to Perdue that mentioned an upcoming meeting with the company's chief financial officer and "upcoming changes." When Perdue said he didn't know about the meeting, Grimes replied: "David, Sorry. That email was not meant for you. Wrong David!"

Perdue then got in touch with his Goldman Sachs wealth manager and told him to sell off the shares in Cardlytics; the sale took place Jan. 23.

The transaction was one among several that led to an investigation of Perdue's trading activity by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Perdue was cleared of wrongdoing over the summer.

The Washington Post reported that Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, said of the trade: "He paid consideration to purchase the now public stocks by exercising stock options on terms not generally available to the public. This raises a question as to whether he violated the STOCK Act of 2012."

2. He Lied About Controlling His Own Stock Portfolio

The New York Times reported Wednesday that while Perdue has always claimed to the media that he doesn't control his own stock portfolio and that it is managed by outside advisers, that's not quite true.

"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," John Burke, Perdue's campaign communications director, told the Times.

But the Timesreported on Nov. 25 that three separate sources said the Cardlytics trade was carried out on Perdue's direct instructions and that the a source said Goldman Sachs had recorded the orders in an internal memo.

3. He Profited From Malware-Detecting Firm While On Cybersecurity Panel

During his time in the Senate, Perdue also repeatedly bought and sold shares in malware-detecting company FireEye.

Almost half of Perdue's 61 FireEye transactions took place while he was a member of the Senate's cybersecurity subcommittee and could potentially have been privy to nonpublic information. They netted him $15,000. And during Perdue's time on the subcommittee, FireEye scored a contract worth $30 million with the Army Cyber Command.

4. He Traded Shares In Firms Overseen By His Own Banking Panel

Since 2017, Perdue has served on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. During that time, the New York Times' reporting discloses, Perdue repeatedly traded shares in companies that were directly overseen by the committee, including financial giants Regions Financial, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase.

5. He Pushed For Obscure Tax Breaks For Biggest Donors

ProPublicareported on Nov. 20 that Perdue wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in 2019 urging him to extend to the owners of professional sports teams a tax break for other kinds of businesses included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

Perdue wrote that "an owner of a professional sports club is not allowed the 199A deduction. I hope you will reconsider." Mnuchin did not take Perdue's advice.

ProPublica noted that Perdue's campaign contributions have included over $425,000 from professional sports team owners over the years, including from the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, which owns the Orlando Magic, as well as fellow Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who owns the Atlanta Dream.

6. He Bought Stock In Submarine Firm Just Before Chairing Seapower Panel

The Daily Beast reported on Nov. 19 that Perdue bought up $190,000 in stock in BWX Technologies, a company that makes high-tech submarine parts — just before he was named chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Seapower, which oversees the U.S. Navy.

Perdue helped to shape the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which allotted $4.7 billion to Virginia-class submarines, for which BWX Technologies makes parts.

The Daily Beast noted that the company is also one of only a few vendors contracted with the Pentagon to make those parts.

According to Perdue's 2019 financial disclosures, he earned $15,000 to $50,000 from his trades of stock in BWX.

7. He Bought Stock In PPE At Start Of Pandemic

Perdue did some of his heaviest trading as the coronavirus threat spread, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, logging 112 transactions in early March.

Perdue also notoriously began buying stock in DuPont de Nemours, a company that manufactures personal protective equipment — the kind used by medical personnel on the front lines combating the coronavirus — on the very same day the Senate received a private briefing on the pandemic.

Perdue's team says he did not attend the meeting in question.

"I can't address anybody else's situation, but I can just tell you over the last five years I've had outside professionals manage my personal affairs," Perdue said in an interview on March 20. "I don't deal with [my stock portfolio] on a day-to-day basis."

Meanwhile, he was publicly declaring that COVID-19 was no worse than the flu.

8. He Made Well-timed Trades Early In Pandemic

At the beginning of the pandemic, Perdue invested $245,000 in pharmaceutical company Pfizer and sold off up to $165,000 in stocks in Caesar Entertainment, a casino company that would later close its doors as a safety measure.

Both transactions have drawn scrutiny due to their timing.

9. He Bought Stock In Netflix At Height Of Pandemic

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Perdue snatched up $50,000 in stock in Netflix at the beginning of the pandemic in March. This acquisition too came after the private briefing for senators on the coronavirus threat that Perdue denies having attended.

Netflix shares have soared more than 60 percent since the beginning of the pandemic due to a sharp uptick in numbers of people staying at home, a Forbes report notes.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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