June 16, 2020

Warren, Lieu Renew Calls for Investigation into State Dept. Official's Efforts to Fast Track Saudi Arms Deal Benefitting Former Client Raytheon

Request Follows Recent Firing of State Dept. Inspector General Reportedly Investigating White House's Questionable Use of Emergency Authority to Avoid Congressional Review of Arms Sales; One Year After Initial Request Goes Unanswered, Lawmakers Reiterate Concerns About Potential Ethics Law Violations

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Representative Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to the new Acting Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. State Department reiterating their 2019 request for an investigation into reports from one year ago that Charles Faulkner, a State Department employee who formerly lobbied for the defense contractor Raytheon, was reportedly forced to resign after working to facilitate the Trump Administration's use of emergency powers last year to waive Congressional review of billions of dollars-worth of planned arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The lawmakers' request follows President Trump's unjustified removal of the previous State Department IG, Steve Linick, who was reportedly investigating the State Department's use of emergency authority to accelerate the arms sales.   

"Given these circumstances and the lack of any substantive update in the year since our initial request, we believe it is long past time for the Inspector General to determine whether Mr. Faulkner engaged in any illegal or unethical conduct," the lawmakers wrote. "Based on public reports, Mr. Faulkner is suspected of using his official government position to enrich a client of his former lobbying firm, which if true, is a potential violation of applicable ethics laws and raises doubts about whether he acted solely in the interest of America's national security."

According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Faulkner, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs from June 2017 to May 2019, was also involved in efforts to encourage Secretary of State Pompeo to certify that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were taking "demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians" from their U.S.-armed military operations in Yemen, and said that "failure to do so would jeopardize pending arms sales to the Gulf, which included the stalled Raytheon deals." Before serving in the State Department, Mr. Faulkner worked at BGR Group where he lobbied for Raytheon, which makes so-called "smart bombs" used by the Saudis and Emiratis in their ongoing military campaign in Yemen.

In their letter, Senator Warren and Congressman Lieu reiterated their concerns about whether Mr. Faulkner had a conflict of interest and cited reports suggesting that Secretary Pompeo "pushed State Department officials to find an after-the-fact justification for (the) emergency declaration" to evade Congressional scrutiny of these arms sales, which were the subject of an investigation by former State Department IG Steve Linick before President Trump gave notice of his dismissal. 

"A former lobbyist whose firm counted a major U.S. defense contractor as a client may have tried to use his State Department position to fast-track lucrative arms sales to benefit that client," the lawmakers continued. "If true, this is corruption and it should not escape a thorough investigation."

The senators requested a written update on the status of their year-old request for the IG to investigate Mr. Faulkner's ethically questionable conduct.

In August 2018, Senator Warren unveiled the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, a comprehensive bill that, among other ambitious measures, would prohibit former corporate lobbyists like Mr. Faulkner from taking government jobs for at least six years after lobbying.