U.S. Senator David Perdue’s finances have come under scrutiny following a New York Times report that the Republican from Georgia made 2,596 stock trades in one term, or almost two every trading day since taking office. There is a reasonable case to be made that federal lawmakers and others in high offices should be prohibited from trading in individual stocks given the range of inside information they are exposed to in their positions and the importance of public trust in government. But in Perdue’s case, a deeper look suggests nothing overtly wrong.
No explicit charge is made by the New York Times, but by mashing together different types of evidence for four unstated charges, the article could leave the casual reader with the impression that Perdue’s trading was ethically dubious, if not illegal. Less seriously, it creates the impression the Stock Act of 2012 that was intended to prevent potential insider trading by members of Congress has failed. Instead, the Stock Act provides the data needed to refute the stealth accusations and would have exposed illicit trading had it existed.