ATLANTA — A New York Times report published Wednesday afternoon offered new details into the stock trades of Sen. David Perdue, which drew sharp scrutiny at the outset of the pandemic.
While the Republican was under the microscope at one point over purchases of Pfizer stock in the weeks following a late-January private COVID-19 briefing for lawmakers, the trade in question in The Times report did not appear to have anything to do with the pandemic specifically.
It had to do with the connection to an Atlanta advertising and analysis firm, Cardlytics, and his selling of stock in that firm before it plummeted. He later reportedly purchased back shares as the stock price rebounded to four times where it was when it bottomed out.
In a statement, Perdue team said he had been cleared by investigators:
"Separate reviews by the Department of Justice, the Securities & Exchange Commission, and the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee each quickly and independently cleared Senator Perdue of any wrongdoing. The New York Times report of the exonerating evidence reconfirms that the baseless accusations leveled against Senator Perdue were nothing more than lies to push a categorically false narrative for political gain. Jon Ossoff and his enablers won't change those facts. Senator Perdue has always followed the law."
The Times report zeroed in on an apparent exchange between Perdue and Cardlytics CEO Scott Grimes, two days before the senator sold his stock.
In an email, The Times reported, Grimes told Perdue he knew the senator was about to get on a call with David Evans, at the time Cardlytics' CFO, and said: "As an FYI, I have not told him about the upcoming changes. Thanks, Scott.”
Perdue reportedly responded that he did not know about any call or changes that were to take place, and the next day Grimes sent an email saying: “David, Sorry. That email was not meant for you. Wrong David!”
Evans and Grimes would take new positions within the company six weeks later, at the beginning of March.
According to a history of the stock price, it went into a freefall after the announcements concerning the company shakeup on March 3, from around $80 on March 2 to less than $40 ten days later. It has since climbed back to more than $120 a share.
The Associated Press also reported on Perdue's Cardlytics trades on Wednesday, and said public records show they amounted to a sale of between $1 million and $5 million on Jan. 23. The AP reported Perdue bought back into Cardlytics near its low of around $30 a share, with an investment of between $200,000 and $500,000.
In a statement, Perdue's Democratic opponent in the Senate runoff, Jon Ossoff, said it was evidence the Republican was in control of his trades.
When the Pfizer trades made news back in March, Perdue said he had "outside professional that manages my personal finances and I’m not involved in the day-to-day."
Ossoff's statement said:
“For months, David Perdue insisted to Georgians he had no control over his own stock portfolio. Today’s report reveals he’s been lying all along, and that federal investigators found Senator Perdue did personally direct his own stock trades. Perdue's misconduct is repeated and flagrant. He is using his office to enrich himself, and he's refusing to debate me because he knows he can't defend the indefensible.”
This summer, Ossoff called for a law requiring a blind trust for the stock portfolios of federal officeholders, including senators.
According to The Times, Perdue's Goldman Sachs wealth manager, Robert Hutchinson, told FBI investigators that the senator and his wife only provided input on "broader investing issues," not specific trades.
Perdue's legal team, according to the report, told the FBI that Hutchinson had advised him to begin selling Cardlytics stock as far back as October 2019.
According to The Times, investigators concluded in late summer that Perdue had not traded on nonpublic information, and the case was closed.