House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decries corporate greed, but that hasn’t stopped her from raking in as much as $30 million personally from insider stock trades on the very Big Tech companies she oversees in Congress.
No surprise then that she is also blocking bipartisan efforts to prevent members of Congress from engaging in individual stock picks, according to a New York Post report.
After decades in public service, Pelosi has amassed an estimated net worth of anywhere between $40 million and $252 million, and recently her family invested millions in call options — betting that the stock price would go up — on such companies as Google, Salesforce, Micron Technology and Roblox.
At the same time, her critics noted that Pelosi was helping those companies by "slow-walking" Congressional efforts to rein in Big Tech.
Pelosi has pushed back against such claims, asserting that members of Congress should be able to engage in the "free-market" and that there would be "no" conflict of interest from doing so, even if a member has insider information on how new laws or regulations could impact the company’s performance and its stock price.
During a press conference in mid-December, Pelosi was asked if she had any "reaction" to 49 members of Congress violating the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (or STOCK Act) and if members of Congress should be banned from trading individual stocks while serving.
Pelosi said "no, to the second [question]. We have a responsibility to report on the stock, but I'm not familiar with that five-month review, but if people aren't reporting, they should be. We are a free-market economy; they should be able to participate in that."
The speaker and her husband may be among the world’s top stock pickers, with federal disclosure reports indicating they beat the S&P 500 index two years in a row, by 4.9% in 2019 and a shocking 14.3% in 2020.
Reacting to Pelosi's comment, former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, tweeted, "it's a ridiculous comment! She might as well have said 'let them eat cake.'
“Sure, it's a free-market economy. But your average schmuck doesn't get confidential briefings from government experts chock full of nonpublic information directly related to the price of stocks," he said.
Pelosi is not breaking any laws. In 2012 Congress enacted the STOCK Act, letting members of the House and Senate buy and sell stocks using privileged information as long as they reveal their trades within 45 days of execution.
Paul Pelosi, Pelosi's husband, who heads the venture capital firm Financial Leasing Services, has made many bets on companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google, that his wife has been called to regulate.
But as Drew Hammill, Pelosi's spokesman, points out, the congresswoman "does not own any stocks."
"As you can see from the required disclosures, with which the Speaker fully cooperates," Hammill maintains, "these transactions are marked 'SP' for Spouse. The speaker has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transactions."
However, while the speaker may have no knowledge of "any transactions," both she and her husband do own several properties.
Earlier this year, the speaker praised the idea of anti-trust legislation to break up Big Tech.
"There has been concern on both sides of the aisle about the consolidation of power of the tech companies, and this legislation is an attempt to address that," Pelosi said.
Publicly, she has decried tech monopolization. Privately, according to sources, a different story is being told.
"The optics are terrible for her, for the party, and for Congress," one source said. "And it raises serious questions anytime she takes action or doesn't act on issues relating to holding these companies accountable."
According to a New York Times report, Pelosi talked to Apple CEO Tim Cook about the anti-trust legislation.
"It's not a good look for the Speaker of the House to simultaneously profit directly from the companies she is supposed to rein in," another source told the Post.
A New York Post editorial published Friday slammed the speaker for her hypocrisy.
“By now, most people know that Pelosi considers herself above everyone else,” the Post editorial reads. “Recall how she repeatedly flouted mask rules? But looking to keep racking up tens of millions, despite the blatant conflict of interest, raises the prospect of outright corruption.”
According to Business Insider, so far, 52 members of Congress have been reported as violating the stock act and would face the paltry fine of "$200" or could have it "waived by House or Senate ethics officials."
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