House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul bought millions of dollars in call options for stocks including Disney, Google, and Salesforce just two days after she publicly pushed back on concerns from her own party surrounding the ethics of lawmakers making individual stock trades.
“We’re a free market economy,” the Democratic leader told reporters during a news conference on Dec. 15. “They [lawmakers] should be able to participate in that.
And that is exactly what the Pelosi family did.
Paul Pelosi bought stock in Alphabet worth between $500,000 and $1 million. He also scooped up shares of Disney worth $100,000 and $250,000 and also bought between $250,000 and $500,000 in call options for chipmaker Micron Technology.
Three days later, on Dec. 20, the couple made two separate purchases in Salesforce — one worth between $100,000 and $250,000 and another between $500,000 and $1 million, as well as one purchase of Roblox worth between $250,000 and $500,000, financial disclosures published Thursday show.
Paul Pelosi, who runs a real estate and venture capital investment firm, has made big bucks before on companies his wife is supposed to be regulating, including Amazon, Google, and Apple.
The latest purchases of call options could net the family a hefty fortune.
Pelosi’s pushback on ethics concerns comes as Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reiterated her support for banning lawmakers from the practice.
Ocasio-Cortez has argued that lawmakers have access to information the public does not and as well as the ability to write and pass policy and therefore should refrain from buying and selling stocks or other assets.
“I choose not to hold any so I can remain impartial about policy making,” she wrote on Instagram. “I want to do my job as ethically and impartially as I can.”
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also has an issue with lawmakers owning individual stocks. She introduced legislation in 2018 that would ban the practice not only for members of Congress but also for White House staff.
Stock trading by members of Congress and their families has become a hot topic of debate after lawmakers from both parties drew scrutiny for conspicuous trading over the past few years. Congress passed a law nearly a decade ago known as the Stock Act following a congressional trading scandal, but the law, signed by former President Barack Obama on April 4, 2012, has yet to produce a conviction.
Legal experts say insider trading cases are exceptionally difficult to prosecute because they rely on proving whether someone acted on nonpublic information.
In October, Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey failed to disclose trades worth as much as $1 million in medical and tech companies that had a stake in the COVID-19 response, the Associated Press reported. The House Ethics Committee fined him repeatedly for failing to report his stock transactions.
Republican lawmaker Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania was singled out earlier this year for refusing to cooperate with the Office of Congressional Ethics over allegations of sketchy stock trades. Kelly is under scrutiny over stock purchases his wife made that investigators claim were influenced by information he had as a lawmaker.