Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) scrambled to divest himself of Raytheon stock after reports that he bought more than $50,000 worth just days after pressing President Trump to increase defense spending to unprecedented levels.
The Daily Beast first reported that Inhofe’s financial adviser on Tuesday purchased $50,000 to $100,000 worth of stock from Raytheon, a major defense contractor — just two days after reports that Trump would be requesting a significant increase in defense spending that the senator advocated.
Inhofe said through spokeswoman Leacy Burke that the purchase was made without his knowledge by a third-party adviser, and that he had “no involvement” in the transaction.
“The Senator has called his financial adviser and they reversed, or busted, the transaction,” Burke said, referring to a Wednesday letter in which Inhofe instructed adviser Keith Goddard “to no longer purchase defense or aerospace companies as part of my financial holdings.”
“This means that the transaction was canceled before it was settled; the Senator never took ownership of it,” Burke continued. “Accordingly, the Senator’s transaction report was amended and the stock purchase was removed. The amended report should now be available.”
Inhofe also reinforced his statement by handing out highlights on cards to reporters at the Capitol Thursday.
Raytheon is not the only defense contractor whose stock Inhofe has purchased in recent months. According to financial disclosure forms, he also has bought and sold thousands of dollars worth of stock in General Electric, which has contracts with the Pentagon worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
When asked about those, Burke said that for years, Inhofe’s financial holdings have been subject to decisions of an adviser that are “the exact same as his other 900 clients.” She stressed that Inhofe was “not informed or consulted on any transactions,” and that Inhofe’s Wednesday instruction to his adviser not to buy stock in defense or aerospace companies should help him avoid such transactions in the future.
Inhofe took over as chairman of the Armed Services Committee after the death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He has, before and since, called for increases in defense spending — arguing just last week that to stay competitive, the United States must “just flat exempt defense spending from the budget caps” to enable the country to pursue multiple defense priorities, despite a mounting debt.
Over the weekend, reports emerged that the Trump administration would request a $750 billion defense budget next fiscal year — approximately a 5 percent increase over this year’s record-setting $716 billion for defense.
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.