Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) purchased as much as $65,000 in shares of stock in a company that produces personal protective equipment, the same day the Senate held a private briefing about the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new financial disclosures reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.
One of several senators whose recent stock activity has raised red flags, Perdue bought shares in DuPont de Nemours, commonly known as the chemical giant DuPont, which manufactures personal protective equipment, or PPE, like gowns, masks and gloves. PPE has become scarce as health care workers protect themselves against COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
He made the transaction on Jan. 24, when senators had a classified briefing on the growing threat of the virus. A spokesperson for Perdue told HuffPost Tuesday that the senator did not attend.
Over the next month, Perdue, a former corporate executive whose net worth is an estimated $15.8 million, continued to buy more shares of DuPont stock, investing as much as $185,000.
The shares are listed on a new financial form filed Sunday, which, compared to Perdue’s previous financial forms, contained much more stock activity, the AJC reported:
The report lists 112 transactions, including 76 stock purchases costing as much as $1.8 million and 34 sales worth up to $825,000. Compared with the 26-month period before the coronavirus swept across America, Perdue’s portfolio activity has increased nearly threefold. There were an average of 38 individual transactions in monthly reports from January 2018 through February 2020.
Perdue is among several senators whose stock activity has generated suspicion in recent weeks, with government watchdog groups suggesting it could be insider trading, as the lawmakers appear to be making decisions based on nonpublic information. Watchdog groups have called for an investigation into fellow Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) after she dumped millions of dollars in stocks following the Jan. 24 classified briefing. According to a subsequent financial disclosure, Loeffler’s husband Jeffrey Sprecher, who is the chair of the New York Stock Exchange, bought as much as $415,000 in DuPont stocks.
Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee — also dumped a substantial portion of their stocks during the same period.
Perdue’s spokesperson insisted the transactions on the new form were above board, and “nothing has changed” because of the coronavirus pandemic, pointing out that he sold shares of Kroger and Clorox, which have experienced increased business.
“Since coming to the U.S. Senate in 2015, Senator Perdue has always had an outside advisor managing his personal finances, and he is not involved in day-to-day decisions. For the past five years, the Senator has fully complied with federal law and all Senate ethics requirements. Every single transaction is reported on a monthly basis and made available to the public to ensure full transparency,” she said. “To be very clear, nothing has changed in how the Senator’s portfolio is being managed before or during the coronavirus crisis.”
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