New financial filings reveal that far right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) bought up to $15,000 in stock in defense manufacturers and energy companies two days before Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
On February 22, Greene bought stocks in defense industry giant Lockheed Martin and military supplier Caterpillar. She also bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in Chevron and NextEra Energy, a utility and energy company.
The purchases came the day before Greene complained on Twitter about war profiteering. “War and rumors of war is [sic] incredibly profitable and convenient,” she wrote. “And just like that, the media has a lie to use as the reason for our shattered economy and out of control inflation.” The next day, after Russian troops launched attacks across Ukraine, Greene said that the invasion was “no surprise” – contrary to what experts on the situation were saying.
According to Greene’s own logic, however, if the invasion was no surprise, then she would also be one of the war profiteers that she complained about in her tweet. Armed conflict is incredibly beneficial for the defense industry; stocks for major European and U.S. defense contractors are soaring due to the conflict.
Oil companies have also been looking to exploit the invasion in order to expand oil and gas exploration in the U.S. Immediately surrounding the initial attacks, oil companies and conservative lawmakers, including Greene, began calling for expanding oil production.
Like they appear to have done with inflation, oil companies may be jacking up prices for oil at the pump, in order to make a tidy profit as the conflict continues. Stocks in Exxon, Chevron and other oil giants have gone up in recent weeks.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) criticized Greene’s fortuitous stock purchases on Monday, saying “Add this to the list of why members of Congress should never be allowed to trade stocks.” According to Insider, Greene is among the most active stock traders in Congress.
It’s illegal for members of Congress to trade stock based on privileged information that isn’t available to the public, as that would constitute insider trading. It’s unclear if Greene could have been operating on insider information in this instance, although this seems unlikely given the circumstances.
However, defense contractors including Lockheed Martin were boasting in January that escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia could be good for business. Lockheed Martin spends tens of millions of dollars lobbying Congress each year.
Members of both parties of Congress have been pushing to ban stock trading for members of Congress, either by forcing them to put their individual stocks in a blind trust or by requiring them to divest from stocks altogether. The Committee on House Administration has scheduled a hearing on the issue, taking a critical step toward passing such legislation, which anti-corruption organizations say is crucial.
Though there are some Republicans who have voiced their support for such legislation, Greene does not appear to be one of them.