House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is being chastised after she and her husband, Paul Pelosi, purchased millions of dollars in call options for stocks just days after the Speaker defended the idea that lawmakers should be allowed to trade individual stocks, despite being privy to insider trading.
In an interview earlier this month, Pelosi insisted that members of Congress should be allowed to trade individual stocks.
REPORTER: Madam Speaker, Insider just completed a five‑month investigation finding that 49 Members of Congress and 182 senior Congressional staffers have violated the STOCK Act, the insider trading law. I’m wondering if you have any reaction to that. And secondly, should Members of Congress and their spouses be banned from trading individual stocks while serving in Congress?
NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: No, I don’t – no, to the second one. Any – we have a responsibility to report in the stock – on the stock. But I don’t – I’m not familiar with that five month review, but if the people aren’t reporting, they should be.
REPORTER: Why shouldn’t they be banned?
PELOSI: Because this is a free market and people – we are a free market economy. They should be able to participate in that.
Days after making the remarks, Pelosi and her husband bought millions of dollars of call options for stocks in companies such as Google, Salesforce, Roblox, and Disney. The purchases were worth anywhere between $1,750,007 and $3,600,000.
The New York Post reported:
The Pelosi family’s trades this month include Google and Salesforce call options worth between $500,000 and $1 million each, as well as Roblox call options valued at between $100,000 and $250,000. The duo also bought up between $250,000 and $500,000 in calls for chipmaker Micron Technology and between $100,000 and $250,000 of Disney call options.
Paul Pelosi runs Financial Leasing Services, a real estate and venture capital investment and consulting firm. In recent years he’s made big-money bets on companies his wife is supposed to regulate, including Amazon, Apple and Google. December’s calls — which are set to expire in late 2022 and early 2023 — show that the Pelosis believe tech stocks are going to continue their current bull run in the new year, according to Thomas Hayes of Great Hill Capital.
Pelosi has been slammed by both Republicans and Democrats alike for defending members of Congress being allowed to buy stock.
Speaking to CNN’s The Lead on Thursday, Walter Shaub, the former top White House ethics officer in the Obama administration said, “In reality, it's not exactly a free market when she has inside access to information from government experts that isn't public, that can affect influence their trading activity that the public doesn't have access to.”
“It's not exactly free when we're locked outside of the kind of information that members of Congress get all the time,' he said, adding, 'This isn't a right, left or center issue. This is a right and wrong issue and it's objectively clear that Nancy Pelosi is wrong.”
Others took to social media to blast the House Speaker.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote on Twitter, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once again trying her ‘luck’ in the stock market, this time with millions in call options in Google, Roblox and Disney. I predict Pelosi’s success. Hard to bet against one of the richest politicians in the world, especially given her stock success.”
Even Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out the House Speaker, writing on Twitter, “There is no reason members of Congress should hold and trade individual stock when we write major policy and have access to sensitive information,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) wrote on Twitter. “There are many ways members can invest w/o creating actual or appeared conflict of interest, like thrift savings plans or index funds.”
“What’s worse is that many who engage in these practices publicly tout not approving cost of living or MRA increases in the leg branch as a way of claiming “fiscal responsibility,” yet compensate by engaging in this highly questionable trading. It incentivizes this bad behavior.”