A House Democratic lawmaker is requesting a federal investigation into Sen. David Perdue’s (R-GA) purchase and sale of stock in a U.S. Navy contractor while he was chairman of a Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over Navy spending, first reported by The Daily Beast last week.
On Tuesday, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee’s subpanel on economic policy, sent a letter to Jay Clayton, chairman of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, requesting he probe Perdue’s investment in BWX Technologies for any evidence of wrongdoing.
In December 2018, a month before he was announced as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, Perdue began purchasing thousands of dollars worth of shares in BWX, which makes nuclear reactors and other parts for submarines. As his committee worked to pass the annual defense spending bill in 2019—which set aside $4.7 billion for a new submarine that the company specialized in—Perdue sold off his shares in BWX at a profit, with sales totaling as much as $385,000, according to his official financial disclosures.
Perdue’s office has stated that the senator has no influence over his stock portfolio, which they say is managed by an independent adviser. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Krishnamoorthi’s letter. A spokesperson for the SEC declined to comment.
Under the STOCK Act, which passed in 2012, lawmakers are barred from using information they glean through their official duties for personal financial benefit. The law has proven difficult to enforce. But in recent years, many lawmakers have increasingly sold off their holdings of individual stocks so as to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, or placing those holdings in a blind trust. Indeed, after scrutiny of his trading earlier this year, Perdue announced he would sell off his investments in individual stocks.
“I strongly believe that Members of Congress should be prohibited from buying or selling individual stocks while in office to avoid any potential conflicts of interest,” wrote Krishnamoorthi. “But until we pass this necessary legislative reform into law, it is incumbent upon the SEC to investigate whether Members of Congress, like Senator [Perdue], are in fact using their official positions to benefit themselves personally and to enforce the law to the fullest extent necessary.”