A recent report on Republican Georgia Sen. David Perdue’s sale of more than $1 million worth of Cardlytics stock in March following an email from the banking company’s CEO contradicts a claim from his office that the transaction was not his decision.
Perdue sold off roughly 20% of his stake in Cardlytics, for which he once sat on the board, after CEO Scott Grimes emailed him in January referencing “upcoming changes,” and soon before the coronavirus pandemic prompted an economic shutdown. His office claimed at the time that the stock sale was not the senator’s idea.
“Since coming to the U.S. Senate, Sen. Perdue has always had an outside adviser managing his personal finances, and he is not involved in day-to-day decisions,” spokesperson Casey Black told The Intercept in March.
A Justice Department inquiry cleared Perdue of any wrongdoing, finding that there was no substantial inside information in his email exchange with Grimes. Perdue had responded to Grimes’ message, which also referenced a call Perdue was supposedly having with COO David Evans, by stating he knew nothing about any of it.
“I don’t know about a call with David or the changes you mentioned,” Perdue wrote, leading Grimes to respond that he had sent the email to the wrong person.
According to a New York Times report, Perdue personally contacted a wealth manager at Goldman Sachs and instructed him to sell the stock. A source reportedly told the Times that the conversation was recorded in a Goldman Sachs internal document that was turned over to the FBI.
Five weeks after Perdue directed the sale of the stock, Cardlytics announced Grimes’ departure from the company and the stock price plummeted.
Perdue is in the middle of a heated Senate race that could determine the balance of power in Washington. After ending up with a narrow lead over Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in November’s election, the two men will face each other in a runoff election in January.
“For months, David Perdue insisted to Georgians he had no control over his own stock portfolio,” Ossoff said in a statement in response to the Times report. “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.”
Perdue campaign communications director John Burke insisted that outside advisers make his investment decisions, and pushed back against Ossoff.
“As the New York Times reported, stock activity was reviewed by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, DOJ and the SEC, all of whom independently cleared Sen. Perdue of any and all wrongdoing,” Burke said in a statement. “Sen. Perdue doesn't handle the day-to-day decisions of his portfolio – all of his holdings are managed by outside financial advisers who make recommendations, set strategy, and manage trades and personal finances. Jon Ossoff continues to push a categorically discredited line of attack on Sen. Perdue despite the evidence that his accusations are entirely baseless.”