Georgia Sen. David Perdue (R), who is currently locked in a tight race for reelection in a January runoff, made highly lucrative stock trades early in the coronavirus pandemic as lawmakers were learning more about the threat to public health and the economy.
According to The Associated Press:
He avoided a sharp loss 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.
On Jan. 23, as word spread through Congress that the coronavirus posed a major economic and public health threat, Perdue sold off $1 million to $5 million in Cardlytics stock at $86 a share before it plunged, according to congressional disclosures.
Weeks later, in March, after the company’s stock plunged further following an unexpected leadership shakeup and lower-than-forecast earnings, Perdue bought the stock back for $30 a share, investing between $200,000 and $500,000.
As of Tuesday, those shares had quadrupled in value, the AP reported, closing at $121 a share.
During the same time, Perdue “publicly maintained that the economy was strong and praised President Donald Trump,” the AP reported.
“There is no evidence that Perdue, who is among the wealthier members of the Senate, acted on information gained as a member of Congress or through his long-standing relationship with company officials,” the news outlet said.
However, legal experts believe “the timing of his sale, the fact that he quickly bought Cardlytics stock back when it had lost two-thirds of its market value and his close ties to company officials all warrant scrutiny.”
“This does seem suspicious,” said John C. Coffee Jr., a Columbia University law school professor who specializes in corporate and securities issues. But he added, “You need more than suspicions to convict.”
The Perdue campaign declined a request for an interview with the senator. In a statement, Perdue spokesperson John Burke said the senator had been cleared of wrongdoing but did not provide details.
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