WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee quickly unloaded newly acquired Raytheon stock following a report that the purchase was made after he urged President Donald Trump to boost defense spending by billions of dollars.
The Daily Beast first reported that a financial adviser to Sen. James Inhofe bought between $50,000 and $100,000 of Raytheon stock Tuesday, a week after the Oklahoma Republican met with Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to discuss the military's budget.
Following that meeting, according to separate reports, Trump planned to ask Congress to provide the Pentagon with a record level of military spending in fiscal year 2020: $750 billion.
Leacy Burke, a spokeswoman for Inhofe, said all of the senator's financial transactions are handled by a third-party adviser and Inhofe had "no involvement in and has not been consulted about his stock transactions." She said he wasn't aware of the Raytheon buy until it appeared in the system very early Tuesday morning.
"As a result, the Senator has called his financial adviser and they reversed, or busted, the transaction," Burke said in an emailed statement. "This means that the transaction was canceled before it was settled; the senator never took ownership of it."
Inhofe also instructed his financial adviser in a Wednesday letter "to no longer purchase defense or aerospace companies as a part of my financial holdings."
Raytheon, headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, is one of the Defense Department's largest contractors, providing the U.S. military with missiles, sonars, torpedoes, electronic warfare systems and more.
Inhofe, who took over as chairman of the Armed Services Committee following the death of Sen. John McCain, has long advocated for bigger defense budgets to pay for new warfighting gear and more uniformed personnel. Trump pledged during the presidential campaign to rebuild the armed forces after years of war, railing about what he claimed was previous administrations' neglect of America's armed forces.
The Pentagon's budget for 2019 totaled about $716 billion. Mattis and other military leaders wanted even more — around $733 billion — for 2020. But Trump signaled in October he wanted the 2020 number to be just $700 billion, a sizable decrease. After the meeting last week with Mattis, however, Trump reversed course and backed the $750 billion figure.
Inhofe and Rep. Mac Thornberry, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, warned against going below the $733 billion figure in a Nov. 30 opinion column published in The Wall Street Journal.
"We cannot and should not balance our budget on the backs of America's troops," the lawmakers wrote. "Too much is at stake. This is a time to follow through on the progress of the past two years and give our troops the sustained, sufficient, predictable funding they deserve."