Stocks Sen. Jim Inhofe sold in the weeks and days leading up to the COVID-19-fueled stock market crash saved the longtime Oklahoma congressman between $68,624 and $136,289, an analysis by The Frontier shows.
Inhofe was one of four senators whose stock sales drew scrutiny this week after the New York Times reported there had been a previously undisclosed private Senate briefing about the seriousness of the coronavirus.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., were found to have dumped stock holdings in the days following that private meeting.
Inhofe did as well, according to his financial disclosures filed in the last month. He reported selling between $230,006 and $500,000 worth of stock in five separate companies in the days and weeks following the meeting, which he said he did not attend.
The potential dollar figure Inhofe saved by selling the stocks represents less than 2 percent of his net worth, which was estimated by Yahoo Finance in 2015 to be just more than $8 million.
On Jan. 27, three days after the meeting, Inhofe sold between $180,005 – $400,000 of stock in PayPal Holdings Inc., Intuit Inc., the Danaher Corporation, Brookfield Asset Management Inc., and Apple Inc., Senate financial disclosures show.
On Feb. 20 Inhofe again sold between $50,001-$100,000 of stock in Brookfield Management Inc.
Brookfield Management Inc., is a management company that focuses on “real estate, renewable power, infrastructure and private equity,” according to its website.
PayPal Holdings Inc., is a digital money transfer service. Apple Inc., is a well known technology company, and the Danaher Corporation is a worldwide company with environmental, life science and diagnostics divisions.
Inhofe issued a statement Friday morning in response to questions about the stock sales, saying he did not attend the Jan. 24 meeting, and instead “was meeting with pro-life kids from Oklahoma … and the new nominee to the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania.”
Inhofe’s financial disclosure forms show that he has not bought stock since 2018 and has been selling off stock since late that year. Senate disclosure records show he sold between $150,002 and $350,000 of stock in two companies 11 days before the private Senate meeting.
“I do not have any involvement in my investment decisions,” Inhofe said in his statement. “In December 2018, shortly after becoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I instructed my financial advisor to move me out of all stocks and into mutual funds to avoid any appearance of controversy. My advisor has been doing so faithfully since that time and I am not aware of or consulted about any transactions.’
Inhofe called the New York Times story “completely baseless and 100 percent false.”
Inhofe as recently as March 11 was brushing aside the threat of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 11,000 people worldwide as of Friday and more than 200 people in the United States.
The New York Times reported that Inhofe, 85, was asked what safeguards he was taking to protect himself from COVID-19, he said “None,” and asked the reporter if he wanted to “shake hands.”
In Oklahoma there have been 49 positive COVID-19 tests and one death, a 55-year-old Tulsa County man, as of Friday. Eight Oklahomans are hospitalized as of Friday, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Senate financial disclosure forms only give a range of the possible dollar figures of stock sales, but records show on Jan. 27 the longtime congressman sold:
- Between $15,001 and $50,000 of PayPal Holdings, Inc., stock when it was valued at $115.24 per share. It is now valued at $91.25 per share.
- Between $15,001 and $50,000 of Apple Inc., stock when it was valued at $308.95 per share. It is now valued at $249.65 per share.
- Between $50,001 and $100,000 of Intuit Inc., stock when it was valued at $283.76 per share. It is now valued at $208.19 per share.
- Between $50,001and $100,000 of Danaher Corporation stock when it was valued at $161.20 per share. It is now valued at $125.67.
- Between $50,001and $100,000 of Brookfield Asset Management Inc., stock when it was valued at $61.73 per share. It is now valued at $42.60 per share.
On Feb. 20 Inhofe again sold off between $50,001 and $100,000 of Brookfield Asset Management Inc., stock. At that time it was valued at $68.29 per share, only 12 cents below its 52-week high.
The recent allegations are not the first time Inhofe has drawn scrutiny related to stock market moves. In late 2018 he came under fire for purchasing between $50,001 and $100,000 dollars of stock in Raytheon, a major defense contractor that had received billions of dollars in Pentagon contracts. Inhofe’s stock purchases in the company were timed just after he had helped lobby the Trump administration to increase military spending.
At the time Inhofe offered the same explanation for the stock purchase, saying he was “not consulted or involved” in stock transactions. He said at the time he took “immediate action” to reverse the stock purchase after he became aware of it.