Pelosi waffles on Congressional ban on individual stock trading

by mcardinal

Lauren Moye, FISM NEWS


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flip-flopped on her position on Congress members being able to trade individual stocks. Previously, Pelosi publicly condemned the idea that this ban would be necessary. On Wednesday, she publicly supported the idea for the first time while calling it “complicated.”

“If that’s what the members want to do, then that’s what we will do,” Pelosi told reporters, suggesting a committee to review current proposals. “It’s complicated and members will figure it out and then we will go forward with what the consensus is.”

She added, noting that the Supreme Court is currently excluded from the transparency laws that other judicial branches face, “It has to be government-wide. The Supreme Court has no disclosure. It has no reporting of stock transactions, and it makes important decisions every day.”

Pelosi has long been a target of criticism for her husband’s stock trading success. Paul Pelosi owns the venture capitalist and investment firm Financial Leasing Services, where he often outperforms the S&P 500 and draws concerns about using insider information from his wife. Together, the Pelosis have an estimated net worth of $106 million.

In December, this criticism was renewed when she told reporters a ban on individual stocks shouldn’t happen “because this is a free market and people – we are a free market economy. [Congress members] should be able to participate in that.”

At the time, the speaker’s spokesman defended her comment because Pelosi “does not own any stocks” while also fully complying with transparency laws for her husband’s trading. This defense was called a “red herring” by a former U.S. ethics director.

Pelosi also faced accusations of slowing down Big Tech legislation that might negatively affect her husband’s portfolio.

A ban on individual stock trading is supported by Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate. These legislators have responded to Pelosi’s comment. 

On Thursday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) spoke to reporters via a video call, saying that the “vast majority of voters” and “many members of Congress” know that banning individual stock trading is the right move. She explained, “We are here because we are guardians and stewards of the public trust, and we use that public trust to legislate and to see and to anticipate the issues our country may be facing…for the public good.”

She added, “When we get caught up and have even the ability to individually trade stock, it erodes public trust in government.”

AOC publicly supports Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi’s (D-Ill.) Ban Conflicted Trading Act, which is one of several similar bills floating in both legislative branches that would ban the practice of individual stock trading. The bill that specifically targets Congressmen and their top staff was introduced with bipartisan support, including Republican representatives Matt Gaetz (Fla.) and Michael Cloud (Tex.).

Democrat Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) also supports this bill. On Wednesday, she voiced confusion on Pelosi’s wishy-washy comments. Spanberger in particular was concerned about why a committee would be needed when there was already a bill that “day by day gets more and more co-sponsors.”

“I hope it’s not so that we can spend a lot of time talking about this issue without actually doing something,” Spanberger told Insider. “If we wanted to take action, we would put the most bipartisan bill … forth.”

In the Senate, Josh Hawley (R-Miss.) introduced the Banning Insider Trading in Congress Act. This act would only allow mutual fund investments by members of Congress and their spouses. Senators Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) have also introduced their own version of the bill.