Politics

Senate Armed Services Chairman Inhofe Ditches Defense Stocks Under Pressure

Oklahoma Republican’s personal finances handled by third-party adviser, office says

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has divested from defense contractor Raytheon after a news organization approached him about his recent investment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Armed Services Chairman James Inhofe has ditched a stock purchase in one of the Pentagon’s leading defense contractors amid pressure from a news organization that was preparing a report on the connection between his official duties and personal finances.

Inhofe’s office distanced the senator from his personal finances, saying in a statement that all of his financial transactions are handled by a third-party adviser.

The Daily Beast first reported this story.

The Oklahoma Republican has long been a proponent of increasing military spending. Last week, he successfully lobbied Defense Secretary James Mattis and President Donald Trump to ask for a record $750 billion in defense spending from Congress for Fiscal Year 2020. Trump had previously sought cuts to the defense budget, which is currently $717 billion.

News outlets reported that budget request Sunday. Two days later, Inhofe’s financial adviser reported to a public Senate database that he had invested $50,000 to $100,000 of the senator’s money in Raytheon, the third-highest paid defense contractor by the U.S. government.

Raytheon’s contract with the Pentagon tops $10 billion. The company builds high-precision missiles and other heavy munitions for the U.S. military.

When the Daily Beast inquired about Inhofe’s new stock in Raytheon, his office said the senator told his financial adviser to cancel the transaction and avoid future stock purchases in defense and aerospace companies.

He did not know about the Raytheon stock purchase until Wednesday morning, his office said.

“The senator has had no involvement in and has not been consulted about his stock transactions,” said Leacy Burke, his communications director. “As such, the Senator was not aware of this stock purchase until it came through the system very early [Wednesday] morning.”

Inhofe called his adviser to reverse, or “bust,” the transaction before it was actually settled, meaning the senator “never took ownership of it,” Burke said.

Inhofe also sent a letter to his financial adviser thanking him for his service but instructing him not to invest his money in aerospace and defense companies.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.