The New York Times has what you could call an explosive report on Sen. David Perdue’s apparent corruption as the Senate’s “most prolific stock trader by far, sometimes reporting 20 or more transactions in a single day.” When did he get any other work done? Perdue’s stock trading, The Times reports, “far outpaced those of his Senate colleagues and have included a range of companies within his Senate committees’ oversight, an analysis shows.” It’s not just the volume of Perdue’s trades that is noteworthy, though. It’s the timing of them and the fact they seem inextricably tied to the companies he’s overseeing in his committees.
Perdue alone accounts for a third of all the trades made by all the senators in the past six years, according to data compiled by Senate Stock Watcher, a nonpartisan watchdog group. “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.” That’s 2,596 trades in just one term, and a hell of a lot of them “well-timed,” and with companies over whose business dealings his committees have oversight. The Times highlights FireEye, a federal contractor that provides malware detection and threat-intelligence services. Perdue “bought and sold FireEye stock 61 times, at one point owning as much as $250,000 worth of shares in the company,” whose information he was using in the Senate cybersecurity committee to encourage the National Guard to beef up protections against overseas hackers—using FireEye technology, of course. During Perdue’s tenure on the committee, “FireEye landed a subcontract worth more than $30 million with the Army Cyber Command, which had operations at Fort Gordon, in Mr. Perdue’s home state.”
Perdue reported as much as $15,000 in capital gains just from FireEye trades in 2018.
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That’s not all, of course. Perdue is also on the Senate banking committee and has “bought and sold shares of a number of financial companies his panel oversaw, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Regions Financial.” This has definite echoes with Perdue’s very well-timed investment in BWX Technologies, a submarine parts manufacturer. That happened just before he took over as chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower in 2018. This was his first investment in the company, and lo and behold, guess which company got a boost in the budget bill Perdue helped craft? The Times reported last month that “Perdue bought a total of $38,000 to $305,000 worth of BWX on dates when prices averaged about $40 per share and never closed above $43, according to a Times analysis of Senate filings. He sold his stock on dates in 2019 when prices averaged more than $50 per share and never closed below $49.”
It’s the timing of all of his trades—”buying and selling stocks at just the right moment”—as well as the trades that involve industries and companies that are within his direct oversight in Senate committees that are raising eyebrows, as much as the sheer volume of his trades. When Senate challenger Jon Ossoff says Perdue is “using his office to enrich himself,” he’s on pretty solid ground.
Members of Congress aren’t prohibited from trading, though many have ceased doing so since the 2012 STOCK Act, which prohibited members of Congress from using the non-public information they have access to, in the conduct of their duties, to influence their trading. Public Citizen found that, five years after the STOCK Act passed, there was a 50% decline in trading activity by senators. Perdue seems to have stepped into the void and filled it singlehandedly.
Perdue is worth $15 million, and he’s been adding to that while supposedly acting as a public servant. Clearly his bottom line is a higher priority to him than his work on behalf of Georgians, given how much time he’s devoted to it.
It’s time for him to go.