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Dec. 3, 2020, 10:49 a.m. EST

Georgia Republican reportedly flipped shares of anti-malware company dozens of times while serving on Senate’s cybersecurity subcommittee

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Shawn Langlois

With control of the United States Senate hanging in the balance ahead of the January 5 runoff elections in Georgia, Republican incumbent David Perdue’s penchant for flipping stocks is becoming an increasingly thorny issue.

According to the New York Times, Perdue’s trades have accounted for almost a third of all Senate trades over the past six years . Notably, as a member of the Senate’s subcommittee on cybersecurity, he bought and sold shares of FireEye /zigman2/quotes/204730283/composite FEYE -0.67% , a malware-detection company, dozens of times.

Almost half of Perdue’s 61 total FireEye trades were executed while he was in a position that could have potentially provided him with relevant nonpublic information, the Times reported.

But it doesn’t end there. In fact, Perdue has a long history of apparently prescient trades that have been called into question. Data from  Senate Stock Watcher shows Perdue made 2,596 trades over his six-year term, which just about equals the combined trading volume of the next five most active traders in the Senate. On some days, Perdue would execute more than 20 trades in a single session.

Perdue also raised eyebrows last week when it was revealed that, as word spread through Congress on Jan. 23 that the coronavirus posed a major threat, he sold off $1 million to $5 million in Cardlytics shares /zigman2/quotes/210365863/composite CDLX -5.07% . Soon after, shares of the Atlanta-based data-analytics company, whose platform connects marketers with banking and credit-card clients, plunged.

“This does seem suspicious,” John C. Coffee Jr., a law professor at Columbia University, told the Associated Press in reference to the timely Cardlytics trades. He added, however, that “you need more than suspicions to convict.”

Get the details: How the pandemic presented an opportunity to Sen. David Perdue of Georgia

Separately, as a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Perdue traded a number of financial-services stocks, including JPMorgan Chase /zigman2/quotes/205971034/composite JPM -1.79% , Bank of America /zigman2/quotes/200894270/composite BAC -2.88% and Regions Financial /zigman2/quotes/202396577/composite RF -2.25% .

A spokesman for the senator reportedly told the Times that the day-to-day decisions of his portfolio are handled by outside advisers, though Perdue’s instructions to Goldman Sachs /zigman2/quotes/209237603/composite GS -2.23% to sell Cardlytics suggests his involvement in at least some of the trades.

Unsurprisingly, Jon Ossoff, Perdue’s Democratic rival, is doing his part to make this a key campaign issue. He accused Perdue on Monday of “using his office to enrich himself” through his trades.

Key Words: Georgia debate gets heated as Sen. David Perdue is labeled a ‘crook’ by rival Jon Ossoff

As it stands now, Republicans control 50 seats in the next Congress and need only one of their incumbents — the other being Perdue’s fellow Georgian, Kelly Loeffler, whose runoff pits her against the Rev. Raphael Warnock — to win re-election to maintain control of the upper chamber. If Democrats win both, they can control the Senate with the narrowest margin, reliant upon a tie-breaking vote by Vice President–elect Kamala Harris.

Read on: Two senators — Republicans Burr and Loeffler — under scrutiny over selling stock before the coronavirus market crash — but do insider-trading laws apply?

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