Retired general Lloyd Austin, Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of defense, could collect up to $1.7 million from leaving his job at a defense contracting giant.
According to public financial disclosures first reported by the Hill, Austin's stock holdings as a sitting board member of Raytheon Technologies could range from $800,000 to $1.7 million. To avoid a conflict of interest as the secretary of defense, Austin would need to cash out his stock options to take the top post at the Pentagon. The retired general sits on an advisory board for fellow defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, in addition to ties with Pine Island Capital Partners, a financial advisory firm—posts that he took up after his 2016 retirement.
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Austin has also received criticism for his judgment as a general. While leading the U.S. Central Command in Afghanistan and Iraq, two different congressional probes accused the general of suppressing key intelligence regarding the growing threat of ISIS.
As a recently retired general, Austin also raises bipartisan concern about civilian control of the Pentagon. In order to take up the post, Congress will need to grant a special waiver to Austin that has only been authorized two other times in American history. Most recently, Congress granted the waiver to former secretary of defense Jim Mattis in 2017.