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Image: Sen. David Perdue
Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., heads to the Senate floor for a vote.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

Scope of GOP senator's 'prolific' stock trades comes into view

Did David Perdue not consider how his "prolific" and ethically dubious investment strategy this might look to voters?

Serving in the United States Senate is difficult and time consuming. Between hearings, votes, meetings, fundraising, constituent services, and occasionally even trying to read and write legislation, it is a full-time job.

And yet, one controversial senator has managed to serve in the chamber for six years while maintaining an extraordinarily active side job: stock trading. The New York Times reported on the scope of Sen. David Perdue's (R-Ga.) "prolific" investment strategy.

An examination of Mr. Perdue's stock trading during his six years in office reveals that he has been the Senate's most prolific stock trader by far, sometimes reporting 20 or more transactions in a single day. The Times analyzed data compiled by Senate Stock Watcher, a nonpartisan website that aggregates publicly available information on lawmakers' trading, and found that Mr. Perdue's transactions accounted for nearly a third of all senators' trades reported in the past six years. His 2,596 trades, mostly in stocks but also in bonds and funds, roughly equal the combined trading volume of the next five most active traders in the Senate.

The Georgia Republican -- who's facing a competitive runoff election in 33 days -- has repeatedly defended himself by arguing that his stock trades have been managed by outside advisers. That defense, at least in some instances, has come under question of late.

But just as important as the sheer volume are conflict-of-interest questions. The Times' report added that the data on Perdue trades also shows the breadth of investments the GOP senator made "in companies that stood to benefit from policy and spending matters that came not just before the Senate as a whole, but before the committees and subcommittees on which he served."

A summary in New York magazine added, "On close to 30 occasions during his time on the Senate cybersecurity panel, Perdue bought and sold stock in a cybersecurity firm that signed a $30 million contract in his home state of Georgia. And as a member of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs subcommittee, Perdue bought and sold shares of several firms that the body oversaw, including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America."

This is, alas, only a sampling. As we discussed last week, the list of related examples is not short.

A Washington Post analysis added yesterday, "Perdue is not in legal jeopardy. Some of his trades were suspicious enough to prompt investigators' attention at the Justice Department this spring and for FBI agents to interview him, reports the Times — but not enough to press charges. The Justice Department closed the case this summer."

The piece added, however, "Just because something isn't found to be illegal doesn't mean it's not fishy."

Did the Georgia Republican not consider how this might look to voters -- many of whom are struggling to get by during a crisis -- when weighing whether or not to re-elect their multi-millionaire senator?