In 2020, Senator David Perdue (R-GA) has repeatedly faced scrutiny for suspiciously well-timed stock trades. Each time, Perdue deflected criticism by claiming that his portfolio was managed by an outside advisor who made decisions about specific trades without Perdue's involvement. But an FBI investigation into Perdue's stock transactions revealed that Perdue is lying. This year, Perdue directed his investment manager to sell more than $1 million of an individual stock.
In March, as the pandemic took hold in the United States, Perdue sold stock in Caesars Entertainment, which operates casinos, and purchased shares of Pfizer, which is developing a vaccine. He faced criticism for attempting to profit from the pandemic.
In response, a Perdue spokesperson told CNN that he "had an outside advisor managing his investments" and was "not involved in any day-to-day investment decisions." On a March 20 appearance on Fox News, Perdue had a similar message. "Over the last five years, I have had an outside professional manage my personal finances and I’m not involved in the day-to-day decisions," Perdue said. Perdue repeated that claim in a March interview with Nexstar Media Group.
In April, more details of Perdue's stock trades became available. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that "Perdue’s financial portfolio saw heavy trading during the month of March, a period during which Congress passed three different spending bills to address the spread of COVID-19 and the markets took a turn for the worse." Specifically, a report filed by Perdue on April 5 revealed "112 transactions, including 76 stock purchases costing as much as $1.8 million and 34 sales worth up to $825,000." That was a three-fold increase in trading volume compared to Perdue's monthly average over the previous two years. Perdue again claimed he had no involvement in the day-to-day management of his portfolio. "Senator Perdue has always had an outside adviser managing his personal finances, and he is not involved in day-to-day decisions," a spokesperson said.
In May, Perdue and his wife liquidated their individual stocks with three exceptions. A Perdue spokesperson said the move was intended to "avoid any confusion about their retirement savings." In a statement, Perdue claimed with new specificity that he was not involved in individual stock trades. "Goldman Sachs or... independent fund managers bought and sold individual stocks without consulting with us," Perdue said.
In September, The Daily Beast reported that, between 2017 and 2019, Perdue bought and sold shares of "Atlanta-based financial company First Data" as he "helped to dilute a rule that governed the prepaid debit card industry." The cards are a key component of First Data's business. In response, a Perdue spokesperson released a detailed statement claiming that Perdue had "no influence" on the independent investment managers directing his trades:
As we have told numerous publications in response to repeated false accusations, Senator Perdue and Mrs. Perdue have outside, independent advisers who made these specific trades. The Perdues cannot direct or influence these independent fund managers. These outrageous attacks are based on information that has been publicly available for years. Any accusation of improper conduct is categorically false and nothing more than lies by liberal groups hoping to win an election.
In November, The Daily Beast reported that earlier in 2020, Perdue bought shares in "a company that made submarine parts" shortly before "he began work on a bill that ultimately directed additional Navy funding for one of the firm’s specialized products." He later sold the shares for a significant profit. Perdue's spokesperson responded with another angry statement flatly denying any involvement by Perdue in individual trades.
This has been asked and answered—Senator Perdue doesn’t manage his trades, they are handled by outside financial advisors without his prior input or approval. No amount of lies from liberal media outlets or Democratic political groups will change that fact.
The Perdue campaign later sent a similar statement to the New York Times. It was the eighth time Perdue stated or implied that he had no involvement with individual stock trades. Each of these statements was a lie.
Last week, the New York Times reported that Perdue was the subject of an FBI investigation involving the sale of his stock in Cardlytics, a financial company. The FBI found that Perdue, shortly after receiving an email from Cardlytics CEO, personally called his "wealth manager" and directed him to sell more than $1 million in Cardlytics stock.
Mr. Perdue then contacted his wealth manager at Goldman Sachs, Robert Hutchinson, and instructed him to sell a little more than $1 million worth of Cardlytics shares, or about 20 percent of his position, three of the people said. One person familiar with the inquiry into Mr. Perdue’s trades said that the conversation was memorialized in an internal Goldman Sachs record later obtained by the F.B.I.
The investigation did not ultimately result in charges against Perdue. But the investigation did reveal that Perdue repeatedly and intentionally misled the public about his involvement in individual stock trades. It is unclear how many other stock transactions were personally directed by Perdue.
Perdue's tortured explanation
The Perdue campaign did not dispute the accuracy of the New York Times' reporting. But a Perdue spokesperson attempted to claim the conduct described was consistent with the campaign's previous comments.
The spokesperson told the New York Times that "Perdue doesn’t handle the day-to-day decisions of his portfolio," and that fact is "confirmed by the New York Times reporting." But the New York Times reported that Perdue personally directed a major trade of Cardlytics stock.
The Perdue campaign told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Perdue's direction to sell Cardytics stock in January 2020 was "based on advice he received from his money manager in October 2019." That may be true. But it still reveals that Perdue had significant control over his portfolio. Perdue decided whether, when, and how to follow his investment adviser's advice. In other words, Perdue was in charge.
Perdue ducks the press — and his opponent
What does Perdue himself have to say about revelations that he lied about his control over his stock portfolio? Nothing. Perdue is refusing to answer questions, even from the local media. He limits most of his interviews to friendly hosts on Fox News.
David Perdue @PerduesenateI’m coming up next on @seanhannity. Tune In! #GAsen #gapol @foxnews
Perdue has "declined an invitation to debate Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff ahead of the January runoff election for his seat." He also dropped out of a scheduled debate before the November 3 General Election, instead opting to appear at a rally with Trump.
In his last debate in October, Ossoff confronted Perdue on his stock trades.
Well, perhaps Senator Perdue would have been able to respond properly to the COVID-19 pandemic if you hadn’t been fending off multiple federal investigations for insider trading... It’s not just that you’re a crook, senator, it’s that you’re attacking the health of the people you represent.
The clip was viewed millions of times on Twitter.