Lauren Moye, FISM News
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband has traded millions in tech company stocks, regularly outperformed the S&P 500, and earned up to $30 million on stock picks alone over the past 15 years. Now, the American people are left wondering just how strong of a role insider information plays for the Pelosis as they trade in the very companies the Speaker is responsible for regulating.
Early in December, Business Insider released an investigation that found 49 members of Congress, as well as 182 of their senior staff members, had violated insider trading law. Now, a bipartisan push to ban individual stock trades is gaining fresh traction which has seemingly caught Pelosi off-guard.
On Dec. 15, an Insider-affiliated press-member questioned Pelosi on the results of this investigation. The Pelosi’s have previously been the focus of criticism due to Paul Pelosi’s uncanny ability to rake in money as the owner of the venture capitalist and investment firm Financial Leasing Services.
The press member asked Pelosi for her opinion of the investigation and also asked, “Should Members of Congress and their spouses be banned from trading individual stocks while serving in Congress?”
Pelosi responded that lawmakers had a “responsibility to report” on stock trades and that “if the people aren’t reporting, they should be,” referring to the STOCK Act which was passed in 2012 and requires lawmakers to disclose potentially conflicting stock trades within 45 days.
The unanswered question was then repeated, “Why shouldn’t they be banned?”
Pelosi said, “Because this is a free market and people – we are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that.”
Two days later, Pelosi’s husband traded millions in tech stock companies according to The New York Post, including Google and Micron Technology. The New York Post also reports that investments in the Big 5 Tech companies – Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft – have earned Paul “at least $5.6 million and up to $30.4 million” since 2007.
Pelosi has previously rejected the idea that there is a conflict of interest between her role in government and her husband’s job. Despite Pelosi’s public statements supporting antitrust legislation to help limit the power of tech companies, however, it has also been noted that she has had meetings with Big Tech executives.
Her spokesman, Drew Hammill, stated to the Post: “The Speaker does not own any stocks. As you can see from the required disclosures, with which the Speaker fully cooperates, these transactions are marked ‘SP’ for Spouse. The Speaker has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transactions.”
This doesn’t change the fact that Paul’s portfolio outperformed the S&P 500 by 4.9% in 2019 and 14.3% in 2020, according to FinePrint who wants to see greater financial transparency in U.S. legislative branches. The Pelosis have a medium estimated net worth of $106 million according to the NY Post, far above the current $174,000 annual salary of a senator.
Walter Shaub, a former director of the federal ethics office, called stocks in Paul’s name a “red herring.” He told the Post, “Unless members of Congress are willing to wear microphones around the clock when they’re having dinner with their spouses and going to bed, the public has no way of knowing what information they intentionally or inadvertently shared.”
She was also accused of intentionally slowing legislation that both Republicans and Democrats have backed as it could impact the businesses her husband has stock in. This adds to her questionable ethics overall, leaving her open to suspicion regarding why exactly she opposes stronger legislation, like requiring lawmakers to only invest in broad funds as a means to prevent profiting from insider-trading.
Stock-trading reform has recently gained bipartisan traction. Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Jon Ossoff (Ga.) have all publicly supported some manner of reform. Republican lawmakers like Representative Chip Roy (Texas) and Arizona Senate challenger Blake Masters have also called for a ban on the style of trading practiced by Pelosi.
Senator Elizabeth Warren criticized the practice of insider stock trading by Congress members in an interview with Insider just days before Pelosi denied a need for a ban: “The American people should never have to guess whether or not an elected official is advancing an issue or voting on a bill based on what’s good for the country or what’s good for their own personal financial interests.”