Austin extends Raytheon recusal to four years

By Tony Bertuca / January 19, 2021 at 6:26 PM

Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, whom President-elect Biden has nominated to serve as defense secretary, today pledged to recuse himself for a period of four years from all matters involving Raytheon Technologies, where he previously served on the board of directors.

Austin had pledged to recuse himself from Raytheon-related matters for one year as required by law, but today told the Senate Armed Services Committee he would go "above and beyond" to ensure the "public has no reason to question my impartiality."

Austin detailed the extension when questioned by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who praised his decision.

"Going above and beyond what federal law requires as you are doing here sends a powerful message that you are working on behalf of the American people and no one else," Warren said.

Austin also said he does not expect to seek a waiver from his recusal unless absolutely necessary and promised to exhaust all other options before doing so.

Austin said he is making the commitment because "Raytheon is one of the world's largest defense contractors" and he is "sensitive" to the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Austin also said he will not work as a lobbyist or sit on the board of another defense contractor when he leaves government service.

Austin joined the board of United Technologies upon retiring from the Army in 2016. He became a director on Raytheon's board when the company merged with United Technologies in April 2020.

Austin received $380,000 in total compensation in 2016 from Raytheon; $338,000 in 2017; $336,000 in 2018; and $351,000 in 2019, according to the company.

If confirmed as defense secretary, he expects a cash payout between $750,000 and $1.7 million when he divests his shares in the company and associated entities, according to financial disclosure documents.