David Perdue bought Pfizer stock — a week before company said it would develop a vaccine

www.salon.com
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Perdue bought the day Pfizer warned investors the pandemic might hurt the company. The next day, he bought more
Sen. David Perdue, one of two multimillionaire Georgia Republicans facing tight runoff elections in January, drew scrutiny this spring for stock transactions made in the weeks ahead of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., while he was receiving privileged briefings on the impending pandemic.

According to news reports and Perdue's financial disclosures, the trades involved 112 transactions, and as much as $825,000 in sales and $1.8 million in purchases. The timing raised flags for various reasons. Perdue sold up to $165,000 in shares of a casino company that later shuttered, for instance, and made an investment in a company that manufactures personal protective equipment on the same day Perdue attended his first classified pandemic briefing.

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In a series of transactions in late February, Perdue also invested up to $245,000 in the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

Though the Pfizer purchase has been reported previously, the events surrounding it have not: One week after those stock purchases, the company publicly announced it would be developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Although the Justice Department eventually cleared Perdue of insider trading, this synchronicity raises new questions about what the senator knew and when.

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Perdue has argued that all his trades are executed by a third-party adviser, and that he has no say in day-to-day transactions. Still, he is among the most active traders in Congress. These specific transactions would seem to have required even more faith in his broker — who apparently felt counterintuitive confidence in Pfizer's stock in the early stages of a market-wide crash, and during a week where the company's shares fell, in line with the Dow's overall drop of more than 6%.

Perdue's broker was seemingly similarly undaunted by the company's Feb. 27 warning to investors that the pandemic "could adversely impact" its operations, including clinical trials:

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