Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) reportedly sold his Washington, D.C., home off market in October 2019 to a board member of a financial industry group that lobbied the Senate last year and that is under the purview of the Senate Banking Committee, which Perdue sits on, raising questions about ethics violations.
Hillary Sale, a board governor for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a self-regulatory body for the securities brokerage industry, paid $1.79 million in a private purchase (the home was not listed for sale publicly), according to ProPublica.
An appraisal from Sale’s lender shows the townhouse was valued at $1.8 million; however, four D.C.-area real estate experts disagreed, telling ProPublica that the purchase price seemed high.
A Perdue spokesperson claimed the home was sold at fair market value and that the lender appraisal confirmed that, however, Samer Kuraishi, who leads a real estate agency in D.C., asserted that appraisals are completed after a price is agreed upon and typically are “engineered to match the sales price.”
If the home was purchased above fair market value, then the difference would be considered a gift, and U.S. senators are required by law to publicly disclose gifts of significant value, which Perdue reportedly did not do in this case.
Earlier in 2019, FINRA lobbied on a bill out of the banking committee that would have required the group to establish a fund to compensate investors bilked by brokers.
A FINRA spokesman told ProPublica the organization did not lobby Perdue specifically.
“Determining fair market value is always a gray area unless the sales are done in a competitive open market,” said Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen. “Since the purchase and sale of this property by Sen. Perdue was not done on the open market, it raises serious suspicions as to whether the sale was in fact at fair market value.”
The New York Times reported last month that the Justice Department had investigated Perdue for possible insider trading in his sale of more than $1 million worth of stock in Cardlytics, a financial-analysis firm. Cardlytics’ CEO reportedly sent an email to Perdue (who was a Cardlytics board member before being elected to the Senate) two days before the stock sale, warning of “upcoming changes.” DOJ prosecutors ultimately decided not to bring charges.
Georgia’s two Senate seats will be decided by runoff races on January 5. If Democrat Jon Ossoff were to beat Perdue and Democrat Raphael Warnock defeats incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Democrats would control 50 of the Senate’s 100 seats, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaker.
2,596. That’s the number of stock trades Perdue has made during his six years in office, according to Senate Stock Watcher, far more than any other U.S. senator. (In fact, according to the New York Times, that’s “roughly equal the combined trading volume of the next five most active traders in the Senate.”)
Sen. David Perdue Sold His Home to a Finance Industry Official Whose Organization Was Lobbying the Senate (ProPublica)
Sen. David Perdue Faces Renewed Scrutiny Over Stock Trades (Forbes)