Nancy Pelosi earns $ 30 million from tech stocks, mocks pressure to ban congressional transactions
Nancy Pelosi scrambles to quash bipartisan efforts to ban stock trading by congressional lawmakers – even as she and her husband have racked up up to $ 30 million in bets on the big tech companies Pelosi is responsible for regulate.
At the end of last month, the Speaker of the House revealed that the Pelosis had clawed back millions of bullish call options for stocks such as Google, Salesforce, Micron Technology and Roblox. At the same time, some insiders say that she has made slow efforts to master Big Tech.
Days later, Pelosi allayed concerns over stock picking by lawmakers, saying it was part of the “free market economy” – comments that “boiled the blood” of Democratic insiders, relatives of the speaker told The Post.
âKey policy makers can be rich, but they shouldn’t own individual businesses,â self-proclaimed Progressive Democrat and founder and director of the Revolving Door Project Jeff Hauser told The Post.
Stock selection by elected officials “becomes worrisome about whether lawmakers have access to inside information or whether your stock purchases will consciously or unconsciously impact policymaking,” Hauser added.
Pelosi is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with an estimated net worth of over $ 106 million, according to an analysis by The Post. This is an average of the maximum and minimum estimated value of its assets and liabilities – the methodology used by the Center for Responsive Politics – using its latest financial disclosure in August, which sets the maximum at $ 252 million. and the minimum at $ 40 million underwater.
Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, is a businessman who runs venture capital and investment firm Financial Leasing Services and has made countless bets on top companies his wife is supposed to regulate, like Amazon, Apple and Google.
The Peloses divided their time between a townhouse in the expensive Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco and a condo in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC They also own a Napa Valley vineyard valued between $ 5 and $ 25. million dollars, according to required financial disclosure reports. , which allow members of Congress to hide their net worth by listing ranges of values âârather than specific numbers.
In addition to Paul Pelosi’s recent trading round in December, the couple have racked up millions of individual stocks over more than a decade.
While there is no smoking gun to show the Pelosis traded using insider information, their portfolio has often outperformed the S&P 500, leading critics to question whether the speaker and other politicians who pick stocks have the public’s best interest in mind when they legislate.
Capital gains and dividends from their stakes in just five big tech companies – Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft – raised at least $ 5.6 million and up to $ 30.4 million between 2007 and 2020, based on an analysis of shared publicly available disclosures. with La Poste.
And Pelosis’s overall portfolio – which also includes companies like Disney and Roblox – beat the S&P 500 by 4.9% in 2019 and 14.3% in 2020, according to data analyzed for The Post by FinePrint, a group. which pushes for greater transparency. financial holdings on both sides of the aisle.
Pelosis’s exposure to tech stocks, however, could have hurt them in 2021, when their portfolio underperformed the S&P 500 by 15.5%, according to FinePrint.
When asked whether the possibility of profiting from transactions could create a conflict of interest, the speaker categorically said ânoâ and rejected the idea of ââbanning the trading of individual stocks. Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill did not dispute the Post’s findings that Paul Pelosi has generally outperformed the market, but insisted trades are not an issue.
“The President owns no shares,” Hammill told the Post. âAs you can see from the required disclosures, with which the President fully cooperates, these transactions are marked ‘SP’ for Spouse. The Chairman has no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement in any transaction.
Walter Shaub, the former director of the US Office of Government Ethics under the Obama and Trump administrations, called the defense “absolutely insulting.”
âThe idea that the actions are in her husband’s name is a red herring,â Shaub told The Post. “Unless members of Congress are willing to wear microphones around the clock when dining with their spouses and going to bed, the public has no way of knowing what information they have intentionally or inadvertently shared.”
Pelosis’s current holdings include between $ 5 million and $ 25 million in Amazon and Apple stock, as well as between $ 1 million and $ 5 million in Google stock options, according to their most recent disclosures. most recent.
“We should be held to higher standards,” Representative Michael Cloud, a Republican from Texas who is proposing two bills prohibiting members of Congress from trading in shares, told The Post. “When the public sees the people in office taking advantage of [stock trading] when they’re in trouble, it does a terrible disservice to all that this nation should be.
Even though Pelosi District is adjacent to Silicon Valley, the president has taken steps to distance herself from Big Tech, including refusing to take Mark Zuckerberg’s calls in 2019 after Facebook refused to remove a doctored video from her.
Earlier this year, she also appeared to praise the antitrust law, saying, “There have been concerns on both sides of the aisle about the consolidation of the power of tech companies, and this legislation is an attempt to ‘remediate.”
But privately, Pelosi continued his relationship with Big Tech executives. According to a New York Times report, Ms Pelosi spoke with Apple CEO Tim Cook about the legislation.
“The optics are terrible for her, for the party and for Congress,” a Democratic insider told The Post. “And it raises serious questions every time it takes or fails to act on issues related to the accountability of these companies.”
“It is not a good idea for the Speaker of the House to simultaneously directly profit from the businesses she is supposed to control,” another source familiar with the situation told The Post.
Pelosi conceded that members of Congress should follow the rules and report trades, but insisted they should “be able to participate” in the stock market.
Under the STOCK Act, which was passed in 2012 and was supposed to curb the trades of lawmakers, most members of Congress are still free to do trades that might conflict with their legislative obligations, provided they disclose the information within 45 days.
The issue of stock trading in Congress has taken on new urgency since the onset of the pandemic, when stock trades suspiciously scheduled by lawmakers on both sides sparked outrage and led to multiple investigations.
Other supporters of bipartisan legislation to ban Pelosi-style commerce by members of Congress include progressives like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) And Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), as well as Republicans like Rep. Chip Roy. (R-Texas) and Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters.
While Pelosi comes under close scrutiny as Speaker of the House, she is far from the only member of Congress to trade shares of individual companies.
Former Georgia Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue were both investigated by the federal government for suspected insider trading in 2020 ahead of their January 2021 election losses, and dozens of current lawmakers , including Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein and Republican Senator Rand Paul, were knocked out. for failing to disclose transactions on time.
In May, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon was criticized for pushing legislation to boost chipmakers while his wife – Nancy Bass Wyden, owner of the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan – traded hundreds of thousands worth of shares in several chipmakers, including Nvidia.
To date, no one has been charged in connection with investigations conducted by the Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission under the STOCK Act.
The 2012 law was passed with bipartisan support following a stock market scandal. Yet in the nearly 10 years that have passed since its adoption, no one has been prosecuted under it, even though many members continue to trade openly.
In some recent cases, lawmakers have failed to report their transactions, as required by law. And while some staff and lawmakers interviewed by The Post have pledged to avoid buying or selling stocks while in government, hundreds more continue to make those transactions.
A recent Business Insider survey found that at least 182 staff and dozens of lawmakers had delayed reporting their transactions in the past two years. Some who were caught paid paltry fines as low as $ 200, while others were not punished at all. There is no government system that lists those who are wrong.
“It’s not a political issue on the right-left spectrum, but a greed issue.” Shaub said.