WASHINGTON — Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe bought Raytheon stock after reports he and others prevailed on President Donald Trump to boost the defense budget, but he has since unloaded the stock and said through a spokesperson he wasn’t aware of the purchase when it happened.
Senate financial disclosure forms indicate Inhofe bought between $50,001 and $100,000 in Raytheon stock on Tuesday. The purchase followed news Sunday that Trump had reversed plans for a defense budget cut and will ask for a $750 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2020. The stock trade was first reported Wednesday by The Daily Beast.
The $750 billion figure reportedly emerged from a meeting at the White House involving Trump; Inhofe; House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; and other administration officials. It would top the $733 billion budget that Mattis and the chairmen had sought and the $700 billion Trump was reportedly mulling before the meeting.
Investors Business Daily attributed a midday rally Monday for aerospace and defense stocks — led by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon — to the reports of Trump’s reversal. U.S. defense stocks had otherwise been clouded by the proposed cut and tensions with Saudi Arabia, a major overseas customer and ally, according to the report.
In a statement provided to Defense News, Inhofe spokeswoman Leacy Burke said all of the senator’s financial transactions are handled by a third-party adviser and that he was unaware of this stock purchase until Wednesday.
“The senator has had no involvement in and has not been consulted about his stock transactions,” Burke said. “As such, the Senator was not aware of this stock purchase until it came through the system very early this morning.”
Inhofe has since canceled the transaction, she said.
“As a result, the Senator has called his financial advisor and they reversed, or busted, the transaction,” Burke said. This means that the transaction was canceled before it was settled; the Senator never took ownership of it.”
Inhofe sent a letter to his adviser in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wednesday directing him to not trade any defense or aerospace stocks because of his new position as SASC chairman.
According to The Daily Beast, metadata in the document indicates it was created less than 20 minutes after the news organization reached out for comment.
Inhofe became chairman in September, after the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., but he served as acting chairman for several months while McCain was absent from the Senate and fighting cancer.
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.