Rampant corruption and a propensity for grift are the only real identifying markers of the Republican Party under President Donald J. Trump, who has managed to transform the federal government into a moneymaking machine for himself and his cronies. With a little ingenuity and a complete lack of morality, it’s easy to get rich as a Republican politician right now.
Taking a page from his party leader’s example, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, decided to use his position of substantial power to help line his own pockets. The Daily Beast reports that shortly after revealing that he would support an increase in American military spending, Inhofe purchased tens of thousands of dollars of stock in defense contractor Raytheon.
The news broke over the weekend that Trump was requesting an even larger budget for the Pentagon, pegged at $750 billion. The news came coincidentally after Inhofe and Defense Secretary James Mais met with President Trump last week after Trump floated the idea of increasing the budget.
Then yesterday, Inhofe ordered his advisor to make the stock purchases in question, which were somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000. Since the news was already public when the purchase order was made, Inhofe sidestepped laws that forbid him and the rest of Congress from buying stocks based on information not yet released to the public.
Even though Inhofe’s purchases were technically legal, they point to a major problem with the U.S. government whereby elected officials are able to exert political influence or cast votes and then immediately take steps to personally profit from those actions. The lax rules incentivize them to abuse their power to enrich themselves when the only thing they should really be focused on is serving their constituents.
The Daily Beast reports that after they reached out to the senator’s office, they were informed that he had decided to cancel the stock investment and has told his financial advisor to stay away from defense and aerospace investments in the future.
In other words, Inhofe realized he had been caught and decided that the political damage he would inflict on himself by keeping the stocks was so severe that it wasn’t worth the massive amount of money he stood to gain. He deserves zero credit for backing off, and the fact that he tried to pull this move in the first place shows where his real priorities lie — and they’re not with American voters.