Former Trump official Sonny Perdue's company was on the receiving end of a sweetheart land deal from a corporation that he would go on to regulate just weeks later when he was confirmed as secretary of agriculture.
The Washington Post reports that agricultural giant Archer-Daniels-Midland in February 2017 sold six parcels of land to the Perdue-owned company AGrowStar for just $250,000, despite the fact that ADM paid $5.5 million for it just six years earlier.
County and independent appraisers who spoke with the Post said that the $5.5 million figure is within the ballpark of what they estimate is the property's current worth, and couldn't identify any factors that would lead it to be sold off at such a steep discount.
Interestingly, Perdue was not required to disclose the sweetheart land deal ahead of his confirmation as secretary of agriculture, despite the fact that it would appear to create a conflict of interest.
"The real estate sales illustrate the limits of the financial disclosure rules intended to reveal potential conflicts of interest before confirmation," the Post reports. "Officials are not required to detail their companies' transactions or any business deals completed before their confirmations."
Nonetheless, ethics lawyer Walter Shaub tells the Post that the deal appears to rely on complicated financial shenanigans designed to evade U.S. Office of Government Ethics standards.
"This may be a matter for the FBI to investigate, frankly," he says.