Ro Khanna's Wife Invests in Chevron, Exxon Stock While He Advocates Green New Deal

Congressman Ro Khanna chairs the House Subcommittee on the Environment, supports a Green New Deal and backs the climate provisions in President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan—but his family has thousands of dollars invested in some of the nation's top polluters.

Just this past August, according to the most recent transaction report he's filed to the U.S. House of Representatives clerk, Khanna's family purchased $30,000 to $100,000 worth of stock in ExxonMobil and Chevron.

It also bought $3,003 to $45,000 worth of shares in the natural gas companies Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, and ConocoPhillips. (The report lists ranges rather than specific amounts bought and sold.)

Chevron, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips are among the 20 companies responsible for a third of all carbon emissions in the world. Dominion and Duke rank among the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters in America, according to the Political Economy Research Institute.

"The money is my wife's property and was completely separate prior to marriage," Khanna told Newsweek. "There were apparently a few de minimis transactions that her financial firm engaged in in the last reporting period."

Khanna's office told Newsweek that these transactions were "accidental purchases" made in error, adding that they are part of a much larger investment portfolio overseen by a money manager.

The office said the next report will show that the family no longer holds these stocks.

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The family of U.S. Representative Ro Khanna traded in some of the world's top polluters this year, despite intending to divest in 2020. Above, Khanna and Senator Bernie Sanders at a press conference on ending U.S. military involvement in the war in Yemen on April 4, 2019. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

After criticism from progressives last year, his wife, Ritu Ahuja Khanna, divested "98 percent" of her assets from the sector, Khanna's office told Newsweek.

Along with the recent purchases, a number of trades in Dominion have occurred throughout this year.

The Khanna family purchased $2,002 to $30,000 worth of Dominion in February. In April, they purchased an additional $2,002 to $30,000 worth of Dominion, and $2,002 to $30,000 of Dominion was sold in two separate transactions in June. One of those listed a gain of over $200, according to the House report.

"I have zero fossil fuel investments," Khanna told Newsweek. "Any investments in question are my wife's from before we were married, and it is not my place to dictate what she does with her money."

Ritu Ahuja Khanna may trade her own assets, the California Democrat told Newsweek, but they do not trade through joint accounts. Khanna said he complies with the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, which, if passed, would prohibit lawmakers from buying or selling individual stocks and other investments while in office.

Grammys on the Hill Awards Dinner
Rep. Ro Khanna's wife Ritu Ahuja Khanna, the daughter of owns the investment portfolio in question. attend the Grammys on the Hill Awards ceremony on April 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage for The Recording Academy

Khanna, who is ranked by Open Secrets as the 24th richest representative in the House, with a net worth of nearly $46 million, married in 2015. His wife's father, Monte Ahuja, is the chairman and founder of Transtar Industries, an automotive transmission parts supplier. Cleveland.com reports that the Ahuja name is "associated with prestige and wealth."

Monte Ahuja is also associated with the Republican Party. According to Open Secrets, he has donated thousands of dollars to Senator Rob Portman and has contributed to Republicans as far back as 1999.

Khanna serves as deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which seeks to "eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels" and "recognizes environmental justice and economic prosperity must go hand-in-hand."

Khanna publicly supports that agenda. In September he joined Representative Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, in requesting documents on the fossil fuel industry's reported role in spreading disinformation about global warming. The two called on fossil fuel executives to testify before the committee during a hearing scheduled for October 28.

"We are deeply concerned that the fossil fuel industry has reaped massive profits for decades while contributing to climate change that is devastating American communities," Khanna wrote in a joint statement with Maloney.

This call was prompted in part by a June report by Greenpeace U.K., when an ExxonMobil lobbyist was captured on camera discussing how the company allegedly "work(ed) against some of the early efforts" to address climate change.

In response, Khanna tweeted, "This tape only solidifies what we already knew: fossil fuel companies have lied to the public, regulators, & Congress about their products' dangers for years."

He said he would call on the CEOs of Chevron and Exxon—companies whose stock his family purchase the previous month—to testify before his subcommittee.

This tape only solidifies what we already knew: fossil fuel companies have lied to the public, regulators, & Congress about their products' dangers for years.

I plan to ask the CEOs of Exxon, Chevron, & other fossil fuel companies to testify before my Environment Subcommittee. https://t.co/b2gKCAV50t

— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) June 30, 2021