A brutal CNN investigation into Senator David Perdue’s stock portfolio exposed the ultra-wealthy former corporate insider’s extensive record of shady self-dealing and suspiciously well-timed trades, highlighting multiple examples of Perdue buying and selling stock in companies and industries that his Senate committees oversee.
CNN’s Drew Griffin found that Perdue is “far and away the most prolific stock trader in the Senate,” making more trades in the one term he’s been in office than any other sitting Senator. And it’s not even close: Perdue “has traded more stocks than the next seven most prolific Senate stock traders combined.” But it’s not the sheer volume alone that makes Perdue’s stock trades significant, it’s also his myriad conflicts of interest––Perdue is “trading, buying and selling stocks in the same businesses that he’s directly overseeing from his committee perches.” Perdue is now refusing to answer questions about his record and actively avoiding the press after skipping the only scheduled runoff debate.
“Erin Burnett: Tonight, Georgia’s Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue, running for re-election in the crucial Senate runoff election, far and away the most prolific stock trader in the Senate. Now, that obviously is interesting, but the most interesting part about it is that some of the stocks he is trading are in businesses or industries that his Senate committees oversee. Drew Griffin investigates:
Drew Griffin: In just the five years he’s been in office, Georgia Senator David Perdue has conducted 2,560 stock trades, some of them on businesses his Senate committees oversee. It’s not just that he’s a prolific trader, he is the most prolific, making more trades than any other sitting Senator, even those who have been in office much longer.
James Cox, Duke University Law Professor: Well, I think the word that comes to mind is astounding.
Drew Griffin: Among his colleagues, it’s not even close. An analysis for CNN by the Senate stock watcher website looked at all trades dating back to 2012––that’s the year Congress passed the Stock Act, trying to curb insider trading in Congress. It shows Perdue, in his one term in office, has traded more stocks than the next seven most prolific Senate stock traders combined. And it’s not just any stocks.
Craig Holman, Public Citizen Government Affairs Lobbyist: He’s trading, buying and selling stocks in the same businesses that he’s directly overseeing from his committee perches.
Drew Griffin: Want specifics? In late 2018 and into January of last year, Perdue made at least a dozen purchases in BWX Technologies, a Navy defense contractor. Perdue became chairman of a subcommittee overseeing Navy funding. BWX stock rises and through February to Summer 2019, Perdue sells BWX at a profit. U.S. Senate Banking committee: Perdue worked to roll back regulations on the prepaid credit card industry. Soon after, he was buying stock in First Data, which stood to gain from the rollbacks. And in the first three months of this year, in a stock move that triggered an Justice Department investigation according to The New York Times, Perdue sold, then bought back a large block of stock in the finance company, Cardlytics. Perdue served on the company’s board of directors, but resigned after his election. According to the Times, the investigation was closed with no charges. Perdue’s campaign calls that an exoneration. It’s not. And while there’s no proof of a direct link between the profits the companies made and Perdue’s actions in the Senate, critics say it is evidence that members of Congress are in a very favorable position to make money in the stock market.
James Cox: It would be really good to take steps that would restore confidence that the individuals serving in the Congress are there to serve the public and not their own private agendas.
Drew Griffin: Perdue, whose net worth was estimated at more than $25 million in 2018 according to the Center for Responsive Politics, has chosen to leave the explanation of his stock trade to an aide: “Senator Perdue does not handle the day-to-day decisions of his portfolio,” the aide told us, “all of his holdings are managed by outside financial advisors who make recommendations. Senator Perdue always follows the law.”
On the campaign trail, David Perdue will not even pause for questions.
Kyung Lah: Why won’t you debate, Senator?
Drew Griffin: He refused to take part in the only debate for the runoff and repeatedly refused to even acknowledge reporters like CNN’s Kyung Lah, let alone answer her or our questions.
Kyung Lah: Senator, can I get you to stop?
Erin Burnett: Trades to happen with somebody who says they are not overseeing them at all. It’s also, from your reporting, the amounts right? It’s not just pennies here and there.
Drew Griffin: No these are large amounts of money, but trying to find out exactly how much money he’s making Erin is hard to pinpoint. That’s because of very vague congressional rules. They only have to report these stock trades in wide ranges. But for instance just one David Perdue stock trade was somewhere between $100,000 and $250,000. More evidence critics say why this just needs to stop.”
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