Georgia Republican Senate incumbent David Perdue is among the wealthier members of the Senate. Perdue took advantage of his insider knowledge to make millions. Perdue was investigated this year by the Trump Justice Department over insider trading, using knowledge from his work in the Senate.
When COVID-19 first appeared, Perdue publicly downplayed the health and economic impact. But when the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged to a three-year low, Perdue took advantage of a profitable opportunity.
He avoided losses and reaped a stunning gain by selling and then buying the same stock: Cardlytics, an Atlanta-based financial technology company on whose board of directors he once served. The only way was to use information only available to politicians.
On Jan. 23, Perdue suddenly sold off $1 million to $5 million in Cardlytics stock at $86 a share before it plunged. However, in March, Perdue bought the stock back for $30 a share. The Trump bailout sent money to Cardlytics. Perdue’s shares quadrupled in value, closing at $121 a share. Legal experts say the timing of his sale warrants scrutiny.
While Perdue left the company’s board, executives have donated more than $30,000 to his political committees. Donations made to Perdue account for nearly 80% of all giving by Cardlytics employees over the past decade, records show.
Perdue’s Cardlytics transactions fit into a broader pattern of stock moves he made when the coronavirus first struck the U.S. He abruptly sold off between $3.2 million and $9.4 million of his stock portfolio over a four-day period in mid-April.
Perdue’s trades during a public health and economic crisis are suspicious. It’s illegal to use nonpublic information gained as a company insider or member of Congress to make investment decisions. It certainly is unethical and immoral.
“This does seem suspicious,” said John C. Coffee Jr., a Columbia University law school professor who specializes in corporate and securities issues.
A series of swift transactions show the senator dumped some company stocks, while investing in others — like protective equipment maker DuPont and pharmaceutical company Pfizer — that were poised to do well during the pandemic.
“All of these questions about the motivations behind our members of Congress and their personal securities trading could be alleviated if Congress passed a law that limited investments,” said Nagy, who specializes in securities law. “Ordinary citizens should not have to question members of Congress about their investments.”