GOP Sen. David Perdue's mastery of pandemic profiteering continues

GOP Sen. David Perdue's mastery of pandemic profiteering continues
Photo via Gage Skidmore.

GOP Sen. David Perdue has truly made a name for himself as the Senate's ultimate pandemic profiteer. In yet another display of Perdue's cut-throat opportunism, the Associated Press reveals the Republican senator, who is facing a crucial runoff in January, made a series of impeccably timed stock trades last spring for a handsome personal profit.

This particular profitable series of trades centered on the Atlanta-based technology firm Cardlytics. In late January, as U.S. senators received briefings about the severity of an impending coronavirus outbreak, "Perdue sold off $1 million to $5 million in Cardlytics stock at $86 a share before it plunged, according to congressional disclosures," writes the AP.

But after Cardlytics' stock price plummeted over news of the pandemic and a simultaneous leadership change, Perdue bought back roughly a quarter to a half million in stock at just $30 a share. By Tuesday of this week, those shares had quadrupled in price to $121 a share.

The AP writes that Perdue's trades weren't necessarily illegal since there's no direct evidence yet that he acted on nonpublic information. But congressional members undoubtedly had a better grasp of what kind of threat the pandemic posed to both the nation's public health and the economy, and experts are urging a scrutinization of the trades.

"This does seem suspicious," said John C. Coffee Jr., a Columbia University law school professor who specializes in corporate and securities issues, adding, "You need more than suspicions to convict."

The rather toothless Senate Ethics Committee has cleared Perdue of ethics violations for some of his past trades that also emitted a whiff of corruption.

But the sheer volume of Perdue's impeccably timed trades, whether illegal or not, have come to epitomize the measure of the man. Perdue, a supposed public servant, clearly spends the vast majority of his time and energy focused on his own bottom line and that of his rich buddies.

That is particularly abhorrent when Perdue adopted a public posture last spring similar to Donald Trump of downplaying a public health emergency that has now claimed more than 250,000 American lives and counting.

As his Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff has pointed out, Perdue urged the listeners of a local Georgia podcast on March 11 not to overreact to the coronavirus threat: "I think we have to realize that the risk of this virus in the United States right now still remains low."

All the while, Perdue was calculating how many ways he could score some big bucks off the near-certain calamity to come.

Wednesday, Nov 25, 2020 · 4:02:37 PM Eastern Standard Time · Kerry Eleveld

UPDATE: NYT is reporting that Perdue's trades of Cardlytic were so eyebrow raising, they prompted a Justice Department inquiry into their legality. DOJ ultimately closed the probe, but the trades were clearly too unseemly to entirely ignore.

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