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Stock trades made by wealthy Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., raised the eyebrows of the Justice Department this spring, after they came across an email that suggested he was made aware of “upcoming changes” within a company two days prior to a major stock sale.
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The DOJ probe, which was reported on by the New York Times, focused on Perdue's impeccably timed sale of $1 million to $5 million in Cardlytics stock at $86 a share before it plunged in late January, as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold across the world, according to congressional disclosures.
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Cardlytics, an Atlanta-based financial technology company,
The chief executive of Cardlytics, where Perdue was formerly a board member, Scott Grimes emailed Perdue days before with a vague message.
Weeks later, in March, after the company’s stock plunged further after an unexpected leadership shakeup and lower-than-forecast earnings, Perdue bought the stock back for $30 a share, investing between $200,000 and $500,000.
Those shares have now quadrupled in value, closing at $121 a share on Tuesday.
The DOJ ultimately concluded that the email contained no meaningful nonpublic information and declined to pursue charges, closing the case this summer, according to the NYT.
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Still, the stock trades have been a flashpoint for Democratic opponent Jon Ossoff– particularly as Perdue is poised to defend his seat in a closely watched runoff race in Georgia come January.
Ossoff has used the issue to pit Perdue against constituents who were struggling under the financial and health perils posed by COVID-19 and paint the incumbent senator as a "crook."
It's illegal to use nonpublic information gained as a company insider or member of Congress to make investment decisions, but Perdue's camp has denied any wrongdoing as far as the financial tech stocks are concerned.
“The bi-partisan Senate Ethics Committee, DOJ and SEC all independently and swiftly cleared Senator Perdue months ago, which was reported on," Perdue spokesperson John Burke said, according to the Associated Press.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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