That amounts to an in-kind gift to Jon Ossoff, Perdue’s Democratic opponent in a Jan. 5 runoff election. It also benefits Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock, who is running against Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.). Republicans are fighting a no-win battle as they try to maintain their assault on the legitimacy of the presidential election while winning two critical Senate races necessary to retain the party’s Senate majority. Republicans cannot do the latter unless they have big turnout from their base. Having lost the presidential race in Georgia by about 13,000 votes, the last thing they need is a stay-at-home protest movement. (It’s interesting that Trump will travel this weekend to Valdosta, Ga., a small city hours away from voter-rich Atlanta suburbs where President-elect Joe Biden cleaned up in November.)
But potentially low turnout is not Perdue’s only worry. New details emerged on Wednesday regarding an investigation the FBI conducted for stock trades the senator made based on information he allegedly gleaned from briefings, for which he has been cleared. The New York Times reported that, in the course of that investigation, the FBI looked into another matter: “possible insider trading in his sale of more than $1 million worth of stock in a financial-analysis firm, Cardlytics.” On this, too, no criminal charges were brought and Perdue denies that the activity presented a conflict, but evidence in that case suggests that, contrary to previous claims, he did exercise day-to-day control at least of some of his stock trades. This offers more support for Ossoff’s claims that Perdue behaved unethically. (Walter Shaub, the former head of the Office of Government Ethics, points out that there is another potential problem — aside from insider trading — with the Cardlytics trade: “He paid consideration to purchase the now public stocks by exercising stock options on terms not generally available to the public. This raises a question as to whether he violated the STOCK Act of 2012.”)
The Times also reported:
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 . . . found that Mr. Perdue’s transactions accounted for nearly a third of all Senate 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.
These included trades in industries related to business before Senate committees on which he sat. (Per the Times: “Nearly half of Mr. Perdue’s FireEye trades, for example, occurred while he sat on the cybersecurity panel, a role that potentially could have provided him with nonpublic information about companies like FireEye.”) This is the epitome of the “swamp” Trump and his ilk vowed to drain when they came to Washington.
Ossoff has called Perdue a “crook,” arguing that failure to be indicted is not the preferred standard for a U.S. senator and that Perdue used his position to enrich himself. He also points out that the incumbent is ducking debates, thereby avoiding embarrassing questions about the issue.
Finally, Ossoff has been arguing that a Republican majority means obstruction, conspiracy-mongering and paralysis on issues that matter to Georgians. Sure enough, on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated he was uninterested in a much-reduced, bipartisan stimulus package of just under $1 trillion. Between tying up a desperately needed aid package and attacking perfectly qualified nominees, Senate Republicans are making Ossoff’s point. Give these people the majority, and we will get more gridlock, more extremism and more lunacy.
In short, Perdue is beset by problems: MAGA boycotts, ballooning ethics issues and Republicans’ previewing their bad behavior. Ossoff has his own challenges in turning out the base so soon after a general election. But if you had to choose between Perdue’s deficits or Ossoff’s, the decision would not be close. If Perdue loses, he will have no one but himself and his fellow Republicans to blame.
Watch Opinions videos: