20 members of Congress personally invest in top weapons contractors that'll profit from the just-passed $40 billion Ukraine aid package
- Defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon manufacture weapons that are heading to Ukraine.
- At least 20 members of Congress or their spouses hold stock in these companies.
Some members of Congress stand to personally profit off Russia's war on Ukraine.
At least 20 federal lawmakers or their spouses hold stock in Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin, which manufacture the weapons Western allies are sending Ukraine to fight Russian invaders, according to an Insider analysis of federal financial records.
The stock holdings by members of Congress come as Congress, on Thursday, approved $40 billion in defense and other aid to Ukraine. Both companies' stock — especially that of Lockheed Martin — have risen since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Among the weapons the US and NATO members have dispatched to Ukraine are the so-called "fire and forget" Javelin and Stinger missiles that troops carry on their shoulders during battle.
Raytheon's Stinger missiles are designed to shoot down helicopters and other low-flying aircraft. Raytheon advertises the Stinger as "rapidly deployed by ground troops" and credited with "more than 270 fixed- and rotary-wing intercepts."
Among those investing in the defense contractors is Republican Rep. John Rutherford of Florida who purchased between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of Raytheon stock on February 24 — the day Russia invaded Ukraine.
Rutherford sits on the House Appropriations Committee that's in charge of federal government spending. In that role he serves on the subcommittee for Homeland Security as well as the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies subcommittee.
"What we're seeing in Ukraine is the tragic consequence of an evil & aggressive dictatorship," Rutherford tweeted on February 24. "Putin invaded a sovereign nation for no legitimate reason, & he must be held accountable. The U.S. and our allies must impose the maximum possible sanctions & leave nothing off the table."
Rutherford's office did not return Insider's requests for comment. Rutherford's office previously said the congressman's stocks are managed by a third party.
Another Republican, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, bought between $1,001 and $15,000 in Lockheed Martin shares on February 22.
Two days after her purchase, Greene wrote in a Twitter thread: "War is big business to our leaders."
In a statement to Insider, Greene said her investment advisor made the purchase and noted it was only one among several other new purchases.
But her critics seized on the trade as emblematic of what they consider an endemic problem in Congress: lawmakers personally buying and selling stock in ways that could conflict with their official responsibilities and position of public trust.
—Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) March 7, 2022
"Add this to the list of why members of Congress should never be allowed to trade stocks," quipped Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota on Twitter, sharing a subtweet that showed Greene's financial disclosure document.
Some members long held stock in the companies, others traded recently
Other federal lawmakers have traded stock in the defense contractors in recent weeks. Republican Rep. Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee and her husband made three separate Raytheon trades worth up to $15,000 and Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida sold up to $15,000 in Lockheed Martin stock but retained shares in the company.
All trades happened in January — close to when the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States permitted Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to dispatch the Javelin and Stinger missiles to Ukraine.
Representatives for Frankel and Harshbarger did not respond to Insider's request for comment. Harshbarger has previously violated the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, by reporting trades made by her financial advisor past a federally mandated deadline.
More than a dozen other members of Congress or their families hold similar investments at a time when President Joe Biden approved a $350 million Ukraine military aid package last week. The US government is also poised to deliver another $6.5 billion for defense purposes in Ukraine as part of a new spending package heading to the president's desk.
CNN reported that the US and other NATO members have so far sent Ukraine 17,000 anti-tank missiles and 2,000 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
Most lawmakers who hold shares in Raytheon and Lockheed Martin did not reply to Insider's request for comment. The list includes:
- Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican of Nebraska, inherited between $50,001 to $100,000 in Lockheed Martin stock from her mother after she died on December 26, 2021. Fischer is the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.
- Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat of Colorado, held between $100,001 and $250,000 in Raytheon shares, according to his most recent annual disclosure.
- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat of Rhode Island, held $15,001 to $50,000 in Lockheed Martin stock. He also held between $50,001 and $100,000 in stock in United Technologies, which was acquired by Raytheon.
- Thomas Daffron, a former longtime Hill chief of staff and the husband of Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, held between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock United Technologies, which was acquired by Raytheon. Annie Clark, Collins' spokeswoman, said he first acquired United Technologies at least as far back as 2014, before the Raytheon acquisition. "Tom Daffron has no involvement in the purchase or sale of any of the stocks in his diversified portfolio," she said. "These investment decisions are made solely by a third-party advisor." Clark also added that the senator herself does not own any stocks.
- Abigail Perlman Blunt, a lobbyist for Kraft Heinz who is also the wife of retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, held between $100,001 and $250,000 in Lockheed Martin shares.
- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican of West Virginia, held between $1,001 and $15,000 in Lockheed Martin stock, her annual disclosures indicate. Her husband, Charlie Capito, who previously worked in finance, held between $1,001 and $15,000 in United Technologies, now acquired by Raytheon.
- Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat of Michigan, held between $1,001 and $15,000 in Raytheon stock. Peters chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee as well as the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
- Martha Stacy, the wife of Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, held between $1,001 and $15,000 in Raytheon stocks and between $1,001 and $15,000 in Lockheed Martin stocks. Carper serves on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. His spokeswoman, Rachel Levitan, said the couple has "always been careful to ensure that their financial investments are handled separately by a financial advisor who makes decisions and transactions independently." She added that Carper "fully supports ongoing conversations in Congress on how to strengthen the legislation and improve transparency and accountability for our elected officials."
- John Axne, the husband of Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa who operates a digital design firm, sold between $1,001 and $15,000 in Lockheed Martin shares twice in February but still appears to hold stock in the company. Axne previously violated the STOCK Act through failing to properly report trades.
- Rep. Kevin Hern, a Republican of Oklahoma who built his wealth through McDonald's franchises, traded both Raytheon and Lockheed Martin stock throughout 2021. He most recently purchased shares of between $1,001 and $15,000 in both Raytheon and Lockheed Martin in December, documents show. Representatives for Hern, who has past STOCK Act violations, didn't reply to Insider's most recent inquiry but previously said a financial advisor manages the trades and that Hern "does not have any input or control over stock purchases."
- Rep. Fred Upton, a Republican of Michigan who is retiring after his term ends in 2022, held between $1,001 and $15,000 in Raytheon shares.
- Rep. Steve Cohen, a Democrat of Tennessee, held between $15,001 to $50,000 in Raytheon stock.
- Rep. John Curtis, a Republican of Utah, purchased between $1,001 and $15,000 in Raytheon shares in June 2021. He also held Lockheed Martin stock but public disclosures appear to show that he sold it in November 2021. His office did not reply to questions over whether he still held shares in the company.
- Rep. David Price, a Democrat of North Carolina, held between $15,001 and $50,000 in United Technologies which was then acquired by Raytheon.
- Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat of Pennsylvania, held between $1,001 and $15,000 in United Technologies which was acquired by Raytheon stock and in May 2021 he purchased between $1,001 and $15,000 in Lockheed Martin stock.
- Margaret Kirkpatrick, who is married to Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and retired from her role as general counsel for NW Natural Gas, held up to $15,000 in Raytheon shares as part of her retirement portfolio.
Additional members of Congress appear to have shed their shares in recent months.
They include Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee's Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. Documents appear to show Wittman sold his shares in Lockheed Martin in January of this year. His office did not respond to Insider's most recent inquiry but previously said that a financial advisor has "all control" of his investments.
Insider previously reported that Wittman was among at least 15 lawmakers who both invest in the stock of defense contractors and hold powerful positions on a pair of House and Senate committees that control US military policy.
Together, these 15 lawmakers' defense contractor investments were worth up to nearly $1 million at the end of 2020.
Another lawmaker who appears to have sold stock in defense contractors this year was Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a Republican of Alabama. It wasn't immediately clear from available financial filings whether he still retained any stock in the companies. His office didn't respond to Insider's request for comment on whether he still holds the shares but previously said outside advisors manage the senator's investments.
Tuberville, who sits on the armed services committee, violated the federal STOCK Act last year by disclosing nearly 130 stock trades weeks or months late.
Tuberville isn't alone in violating the STOCK Act — more than 1 in 10 members of Congress have done so, Insider's Conflicted Congress investigation found.
In March alone, Insider found Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi of New York, Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, and Whitehouse to each be in violation of the STOCK Act's disclosure provisions.
Congress is considering a stock trading ban
No law prohibits lawmakers from sitting on congressional committees, writing legislation, or voting on bills that might affect them financially.
But momentum is growing for banning lawmakers from trading stocks altogether. A House hearing was set for March 16 to explore the matter, although it didn't take place as scheduled because Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren contracted COVID-19. A new date hasn't yet been set.
Numerous federal policymakers have defense contractors in their states and districts, who call up lawmakers as the defense spending bills are being drafted to warn that people will lose jobs if defense funding decreases. The latest spending bill making its way through Congress represents another victory for the industry as it includes $782 billion in defense spending, a 5.6% increase over last year.
Government watchdog organizations say investments like those in defense contractors muddle lawmakers' decision making abilities and reduce public trust in government officials.
Political action committees linked to defense contractors are among the largest political donors in the United States.
Defense contractors likewise spend millions of dollars lobbying the federal government to prod elected officials, shape policy, and win lucrative government contracts. During 2021, Raytheon spent nearly $15.4 million on federal lobbying efforts while Lockheed Martin spent more than $14.4 million, according to federal records compiled by nonpartisan research organization OpenSecrets.
"This is a case study in why there is a lot of concern around congressional stock trading," said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager at the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight.
The investments indicate that war isn't only profitable for defense contractors "but members of congress who invest," he added.
POGO supports a ban on members' trading individual stocks.
"The easiest way to clear all this up and make the scandal not exist is to have clear, straightforward restrictions and have them apply to everybody," Hedtler-Gaudette said.
This article was originally published March 11, 2022, and updated to include new information made available about members of Congress purchasing or otherwise acquiring defense contractor stock.
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