Senator David Perdue, one of two Republican senators from Georgia facing runoff elections in January, began making large and ultimately profitable purchases of shares in a Navy contractor in 2018 just before taking over as chair of a Senate subcommittee overseeing the Navy fleet.
The disclosure, first reported Wednesday by The Daily Beast, comes as both Mr. Perdue and Georgia’s other senator, Kelly Loeffler, have been under fire for their stock trades.
Mr. Perdue, a millionaire and formerly a prolific trader of individual stocks, announced in May that he would divest from his large individual stock holdings after questions were raised about his well-timed purchases of Pfizer stock in February, after senators were briefed on the coronavirus threat.
“Senator Perdue doesn’t manage his trades, they are handled by outside financial advisors without his prior input or approval,” a spokeswoman for Mr. Perdue said in response to the report about Mr. Perdue’s trades in shares of the Navy contractor, BWX Technologies.
Mr. Perdue bought a total of $38,000 to $305,000 worth of BWX on dates when prices averaged about $40 per share and never closed above $43, according to a Times analysis of Senate filings. He sold his stock on dates in 2019 when prices averaged more than $50 per share and never closed below $49. The filings give only a value range for stock transactions, making it impossible to know how many shares are bought and sold
Mr. Perdue purchased his shares of BWX, which supplies nuclear components and fuel for submarines and aircraft carriers, in the six weeks before the January 2019 announcement that he would take over as chair of the Senate Armed Services SeaPower subcommittee.
Mr. Perdue sold his positions in BWX between February and July 2019. In June of that year, he announced that he had helped push through additional funding for the Navy in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, including money for an extra submarine.
As subcommittee chair, Mr. Perdue has been a strong proponent of increasing Navy spending. “In this era of great power competition, there is no question our Navy needs to grow larger and become more capable,” he told a committee meeting in December 2019, after he had sold his BWX shares.
While not officially prohibited, individual stock trades by members of Congress have long raised questions, according to Kedric Payne, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog group.
“This is just a perfect example of why many members of Congress have decided on their own to not trade individual stocks, even though there is no evidence of insider trading. It still begs the question of whether his official actions are somehow motivated by personal interest.”
“David Perdue’s corruption and self-dealing are flagrant,” Mr. Ossoff said in response to the Daily Beast article. “He is blatantly exploiting his office to line his own pockets. This conduct is utterly inexcusable.”
A spokesman for BWX Technologies, Jud Simmons, said the company was not aware that Mr. Perdue had been a shareholder until recent media reports. “Like other companies, BWX Technologies is not aware of, and does not control, purchases of its stock by individuals,” Mr. Simmons said.