The Jolt: Greene made defense stock purchases days before Russia invaded Ukraine

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s controversies usually center around her public appearances and musings, but most recently her critics have focused on what they see on paper.

It all started when Greene submitted financial disclosures showing that on Feb. 22, two days before Russia invaded Ukraine, she purchased shares worth up to $15,000 each in defense contractor Lockheed Martin, oil giant Chevron and Florida-based utility company NextEra Energy, which has a large stake in renewable energy.

AJC investigative reporter Chris Joyner helped us dig into this issue. He found that no other Georgia lawmaker has made comparable purchases timed around the Ukraine crisis.

Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, one of Greene’s congressional foes, was among those who called her out.

“I think it is time for us to ban stock trading for members of Congress because you know, the evidence is there,” she told Democracy Now. “Not only did we see people profiting from the pandemic, we are now seeing them profit from war.”

Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff is among those backing legislation to ban lawmakers and their spouses from trading stocks in individual companies, and the issue is gaining traction. Questions about then-Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler’s stock trading during the pandemic contributed to their defeat in early 2021.

What also raised eyebrows about Greene is that even as she invested in a defense contractor she was critiquing war profiteering on social media.

“War and rumors of war is incredibly profitable and convenient,” she wrote on Feb. 23. “And just like that, the media now has a lie to use as the reason for our shattered economy and out of control inflation. What a sad existence it must be to shill for Globalism & America Last politicians.”

A day later, there was more: “Tragically, America’s foreign policy strategy over the past 20 years has been more for corporate profit and not for America’s security and our own national interest. War is big business to our leaders. From the defense manufacturers to buy/sell decisions on how war and rumors of war affect the market to the foreign countries that our corporations send our American jobs based on allies & enemies, it’s all business.”

Greene later released a statement, first to Business Insider, distancing her from the stock trades in question.

“Our investment advisor has full discretionary authority over our accounts,” she said. “We have owned this American company for years and this small investment was part of our overall investment strategy.”

All three stocks in question have performed well in the stock since Greene’s purchase, with Chevron jumping 26%. Lockheed and NextEra have gained 16% and 11%, respectively.

Congress members only have to report stock purchases in ranges, rather than precise dollars, so it’s impossible to say how much the value of the stocks means to Greene’s bottom line. The ranges suggest that she would make between a few hundred dollars and around $9,000 were she to sell them today.


It’s the last day of qualifying, and all the biggest names have signed up to run. But there’s still some intrigue. Here are some notes:

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr has drawn a GOP challenger: John Gordon, a conservative lawyer angling for Donald Trump’s support.

State Sen. Jen Jordan, the best-known Democratic contender for that office, is also quite familiar with Gordon. He ran for her Senate seat in 2018 but was defeated by Republican Leah Aldridge, who wound up losing to Jordan.

In another interesting development, Ryan Millsap, the chief executive of Blackhall Studios, signed up to challenge Republican state Sen. Brian Strickland, a key ally of Gov. Brian Kemp.

But then he withdrew his candidacy, saying that Strickland “is watching our backs and making Georgia a better state in which to live and do business.”

Friday might as well be a victory celebration for dozens of lawmakers. By our count, about 80 House seats and 24 Senate seats could be sewn up if no challenger opposes the incumbent.


Credit: Greg Bluestein

Credit: Greg Bluestein

We’ve picked up more information about Georgia First, the super PAC that slammed Republican Senate frontrunner Herschel Walker this week.

The group is supporting former Navy SEAL Latham Saddler’s campaign. The main backer is Richard Boyce, a California donor who gave $100,000 to seed the organization. Boyce also contributed $8,700 to Saddler’s bid.

Already, Georgia First has sent a volley of texts to Republican voters warning of Walker’s “record of domestic violence, assault, and lying about his business success.” It links to a microsite here.

The group plans to ramp up its attacks on Walker, the former football star, as the May 24 primary nears.

It also provided us a memo that showed Walker’s hefty advantage in polls drops sharply when voters are informed about his past, which includes allegations of violence against women and a pattern of erratic behavior.

The memo’s conclusion is that Walker “is vulnerable once voters learn about his problematic past and weak conservative record on immigration.”

“Additionally, Georgia Republican primary voters are extremely motivated to win this seat back in November. With nearly three months until the primary, there is an opportunity for another candidate to emerge as the alternative to Walker.”

Read the memo here.


On the same note, read our analysis of Herschel Walker’s business record, which shows a string of defaults, settlements and lawsuits alleging that the Republican Senate candidate and his businesses owed millions of dollars in unpaid loans.

You can find it here.


The House could be busy on “Crossover Eve” on Friday, the last business day before the deadline for bills to pass at least one chamber.

So far, the most significant bills up for votes in the House are the state budget and a proposal to create the city of Mableton in Cobb County.

The House has 13 bills on its agenda, but more could be added throughout the day, our AJC colleague Mark Niesse reports.

Meanwhile on the Senate side, the AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu tells us that the chamber’s version of a critical race theory, which lawmakers refer to as “divisive concepts,” will be on the floor on Friday. She also expects that a bill aiming to strengthen the state’s hazing laws will come to a vote.


The U.S. Senate late Thursday cleared the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package, sending it to President Joe Biden to sign into law.

We have a Georgia-focused report on how the state’s freshman senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, worked the earmarking process for a combined $157 million in Georgia projects.

But we received the most questions after our list of local projects included one big-ticket item that was pushed by a lawmaker from outside the state.

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham was the sponsor of $5 million in funding that was awarded to the Johnny Isakson Center for Brain Science and Neurological Disorders at the University of Georgia.

Isakson, who died in December, served in the GOP caucus alongside Graham for his entire 14 years in the Senate. A spokesman for Graham described Isakson as a “dear friend” and said the South Carolina lawmaker supports the center’s mission of researching brain disorders, including Parkinson’s, which Isakson lived with.


A controversial plan to replace all of the polling locations in rural Lincoln County with one new central voting location has been abandoned by the elections board, the AJC’s Mark Niesse reports.

The elections board backed down from the poll closure idea in response to resistance that began late last year.

Voting rights organizations gathered hundreds of signatures on petitions in January that blocked some of the poll closures from moving forward. Under Georgia law, a petition signed by at least 20% of registered voters in a precinct can prevent its closure.

“After the public hearings and with the reactions from the people, it was just time to let that go,” Lincoln County Elections Director Lilvender Bolton said. “I just thought we needed to end it, and the board agreed.”


POSTED: Maya T. Prabhu’s recap of the failed spaceport referendum in Camden County and what that means for the future of the project.

Spoiler: It’s unlikely to go away.


Georgia native and Saturday Night Live cast member Kenan Thompson will host a virtual fundraiser for Stacey Abrams next Sunday, March 20. The event has a starting ticket price if $5 and goes all the way up to $5,000 for people who want to be designated as “hosts” and attend a virtual pre-reception.

Abrams will begin her statewide One Georgia campaign tour on Monday with a morning stop in South Georgia followed by a meet and greet in Warner Robins and ending the day with a rally in West Atlanta.


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