Two Republican candidates to replace Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate, Jane Timken and Josh Mandel, separately called for further scrutiny of the $ 60 million stock sales by senior Workhorse Group officials.
Candidates responded to an enquirer investigation into the Loveland-based electric van maker and its warehouse break-in after losing a key bid to replace delivery vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service earlier this year. The investigation found that Workhorse insiders reaped millions from the first signs that the postal service was in trouble.
Former Ohio Republican Party leader Timken expressed concern about the deal. She has also criticized the likely Senate Democratic nominee, US MP Tim Ryan, for co-authoring a letter to President Joe Biden urging the White House to review the postal contract it was awarded to a rival company.
“We all want Ohio companies to be successful, but what happened here fails the smell test and questions need to be answered on behalf of taxpayers, investors, and Ohioans,” said Timken.
She also mocked the March 1 letter to Biden (co-authored with Sen. Sherrod Brown and MP Marcy Kaptur) in which she “asked him to stop a federal postal trucking contract” and accused postal officials of “being a workhorse”. to have run over “.
“In their knee-jerk desire to implement Green New Deal-type programs, it looks like Tim Ryan and Sherrod Brown forgot one basic business premise – review,” said Timken.
Mandel called for an investigation into the Workhorse business.
“Once again, it seems that the insider elites are screwing people up. This needs to be fully investigated and prosecuted, ”said Mandel.
Ryan’s office defended the letter as “an advocate for jobs in Ohio and for workers in Ohio”. A spokesman added that Ryan stood by the letter and remained concerned about the postal contract and called for a pre-contract review of allegations of improper trading by Oshkosh officials.
Ryan’s spokesman said a similar review of workhorse trades should take place in the face of any allegations of insider trading.
“If there is suspected insider trading in Workhorse shares, this must also be fully investigated and – if it is true – those responsible must be fully prosecuted,” said the Ryan spokesman.
Workhorse officials said they believe executives and board members did nothing inappropriate in selling their stocks and options through 10b5-1 plans. The company upgraded its leadership ranks a day after The Enquirer posted its history on the transactions.
The company and top executives are being sued by shareholders, accusing insiders of taking advantage of the postal offer to drive stock prices up so they could sell at a high price.
Workhorse officials have declined to discuss legal matters but have labeled shareholders’ lawsuits “unfounded” and vowed to defend themselves “vigorously”.
Since the stock crash, Workhorse has also been the subject of an unspecified investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Last week, Brown’s office declined to discuss the ongoing SEC investigation into Workhorse – overseen by the powerful Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that Brown chairs.
Through a spokesman, Brown reprimanded Workhorse but did not stop calling for a review of the stock transactions.
“He believes that all executives running companies – including Workhorse – should focus on creating jobs and investing in workers, not filling their own pockets.”
Follow @alexcoolidge on Twitter for the latest on business in Cincinnati, P&G, Kroger and Fifth Third Bank.