Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, a RepublicanOfCourse, is settling in to his new position as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Inhofe, who got the job after the death of previous chairman John McCain, is a fervent believer in spending All The Money on defense, and is already pressing for steep increases in the defense budget because reasons.
Oh, and after convincing the White House to pursue record defense spending, Inhofe days later bought between $50,000 and $100,000 of stock in major defense contractor Raytheon, says the Daily Beast.
After The Daily Beast asked about the purchase, Inhofe’s office said the senator had contacted his financial adviser to cancel the transaction and instructed him to avoid defense and aerospace purchases going forward.
The transaction was apparently canceled within a half hour of a reporter asking about it, so it appears Inhofe’s office was keenly aware of just how bad it looked. A bit more hilariously, Inhofe and his staff were so aware of how bad it looked that he had flash cards made up to hand to reporters who asked him about the story this morning. “3rd-party financial adviser that manages my stocks in a fully discretionary account“, the card says in part, along with “I am not consulted or involved in any stock transactions.”
He needn’t be so defensive. It’s not currently illegal for Senate lawmakers to buy stocks in companies that they themselves are seeking to regulate, unregulate, boost, or sabotage. As long as they don’t trade on non-public information, wink-wink, it doesn’t count as insider trading. Regardless of how or when the stock is purchased, here’s not much keeping a senator who owns, say, Raytheon stock for feeling the sudden, urgent patriotic need for the U.S. government to purchase another few warehouses worth of Raytheon’s more profitable products.
So Inhofe’s botched stock purchase qualifies, in the current environment, as oopsie at best. It was nice of him to hand out flash cards, though.