ATLANTA — US Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) bought and sold stock in at least one medical device company whose price jumped even as Congress was trying to manage the opioid crisis.
Records reviewed by 11Alive News show that Perdue made substantial profits from the metro Atlanta company's stock as landmark opioid legislation was passing through Congress.
Perdue has come under fire for much of this year for his stock trades at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. These trades indicate Perdue made thousands of dollars in stock profits during the opioid crisis as well.
Nearly five years ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened to take its first hard look at the opioid crisis.
On January 27, 2016 -- seven days before the hearing, one of the committee's members, Sen. David Perdue, purchased more than $1,000 worth of stock in Alpharetta-based Halyard Health, a medical device company. One of Halyard’s specialties was pain management alternatives to opioids.
Video of the three-hour hearing shows that Perdue did not participate in it.
Four times in the week prior to the January 27 opioid hearing -- on January 20, 21, 25, and 26 – records show Perdue made four separate purchases of Halyard stock – valued at between $4,004 and $60,000. Congressional records are deliberately vague about the exact values.
After the hearing, Perdue kept right on purchasing Halyard stock. Records show that he purchased the company's stock six more times, through the end of February 2016.
According to Congressional records, Perdue's Halyard stock purchases were valued at up to $150,000.
At around that point, coverage was just beginning about the opioid crisis that was turning suburban Atlanta teenagers into heroin addicts in a geographic triangle that stretched from Atlanta to Canton to Gainesville.
It was a heartbreaking story that received national attention -- and attention in the halls of Congress.
As legislation moved through the Senate, Perdue started selling. The value of Halyard stock had climbed -- from a low of $24.11 when Perdue began buying, to as much as $37.03 per share by mid-summer, when he sold ti all off.
Price records indicated that Perdue made anywhere from a 33 to 54 percent profit over the seven-month period when Perdue bought, then sold, the stock in the company making pain management devices.
"Thirty-three percent on a seven-month investment? I mean that’s a terrific return," said Dr. Tom Smith, an Emory University economist.
Perdue’s wealth is no secret. The former Fortune 500 CEO lives on Sea Island, an elite gated community on the Georgia coast.
Roll Call reports most of his nearly $16 million of personal wealth is tied up in his stock portfolio – and his public disclosures reveal hundreds of stock sales and purchases, year after year.
The New York Times this week reported Perdue is the most prolific stock trader in the US Senate.
When he sold his Halyard stock, Perdue reported the sale was worth no more than $120,000 – real money for most Georgians, but a fraction of Perdue’s portfolio.
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"I hope everything is above boards," Dr. Smith said. "I expect his trades will be under scrutiny, but it certainly doesn’t look good."
Perdue is locked in a tight re-election race with Democrat Jon Ossoff. The runoff election will be on January 5.
We contacted Perdue’s campaign in reference to the stock trades. They told us that federal investigators cleared Perdue of any wrongdoing with regard to his stock trades.
“Senator Perdue doesn't handle the day-to-day decisions of his portfolio. All of his holdings are managed by outside financial advisors,” wrote spokesman John Burke.