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Ryan seeks probe of OshKosh stock buy

Congressman Tim Ryan is urging a federal oversight body to investigate a large purchase of OshKosh Corp. stock the day before a division of the Wisconsin-based company was awarded the contract to build the U.S. Postal Service’s next-gen delivery vehicle.

Ryan’s call Monday onto the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission comes one week after he and other federal Democratic lawmakers from Ohio asked President Joe Biden to halt the contract award to OshKosh Defense for further review.

He’s now asking the SEC to review a more than $54 million purchase of OshKosh stock less than 24 hours before Postmaster Louis DeJoy announced Feb. 23 that Oshkosh Defense won the contract worth up to $6 billion, according to a release from Ryan’s office.

“Additionally, it is my understanding that the OSK stock rose significantly prior to the announcement,” Ryan wrote the SEC.

“Given the gravity and serious implications of this contract, I am writing to request that the Securities and Exchange Commission look into this issue as soon as possible.”

A spokeswoman with OshKosh did not return a phone call or email seeking comment.

The 10-year contract calls on Oshkosh to manufacture up to 165,000 new vehicles. In competition for it was Cincinnati-based electric truck manufacturer Workhorse Group Inc., which holds a 10 percent stake in Lordstown Motors Corp.

Its factory in Lordstown, the former General Motors assembly plant, was likely the location to manufacture the Workhorse delivery trucks.

A week ago, Ryan, D-Howland; U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo; and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, wrote Biden, urging him to halt the contract. The trio want a review done to determine if inappropriate political influence factored in the award and whether the contract is consistent with Biden’s call to electrify the U.S. government’s fleet of vehicles.

DeJoy previously told a House committee the new postal truck fleet would be 10 percent electric. The remaining vehicles would be equipped with fuel-efficient internal combustion engines, according to the postal service.

Also last week, Workhorse met with postal service representatives to get more information why the company was not selected.

Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes said the meeting was the first step in what’s expected to be a prolonged process to explore options and perhaps further action related to the company’s bid.

The company has retained legal and corporate advisory firms, including Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld LLP and Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass LLP, “to identify our options and pursue them effectively,” according to Hughes.

“We appreciate the support of the many private and public stakeholders who have expressed an interest in supporting us and will continue to share updates as we are able,” he said.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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