House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suddenly begun talking tough about members of Congress enriching themselves with stock trades, but the bill she favors to stop it has loopholes big enough to drive a Brinks truck through.
Last week, Pelosi was suddenly seen calling for new rules to govern how members of Congress deal in stocks, Just the News reported.
Her sudden concern comes after months of questions over the millions that members of Congress have made on the stock market. Many worry that these congressmen are buying and selling stocks based on their insider knowledge about how legislation will affect certain companies.
Pelosi finally signed onto a stock trading ban for members of Congress by supporting the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, which “prohibits a Member of Congress or certain congressional officers or employees from (1) purchasing or selling specified investments, (2) entering into a transaction that creates a net short position in a security, or (3) serving as an officer or member of any board of any for-profit entity.”
The bill, though, does not apply to spouses and family of members of Congress, and many feel it defeats the ban if a congressman’s family can make the same suspicious stock trades to enrich their family.
Without a ban on family members trading stocks with insider information, the act is practically toothless.
Pelosi took pains to point out that other branches of the government do not require members to report stock trades. She noted that the U.S. Supreme Court does not ask justices to report trades.
“And yet it makes important decisions every day,” Pelosi said of the court. “I do believe in the integrity of people in public service. I want the public to have that understanding. We have to do this to deter something that we see as a problem, but it is a confidence issue. And if that’s what the members want to do, then that’s what we will do.”
“But it’s complicated, and members will figure it out, and then we’ll go forward with what the consensus is,” Pelosi insisted.
This is a big turnaround from her position on stock trading late last year. Indeed, it was amazing how Pelosi suddenly became a big booster of capitalism when people first began raising the alarm about congressmen enriching themselves with insider stock trades.
Early in December, for instance, Pelosi waved off all concerns about the issue, saying “We’re a free-market economy,” and adding of her fellow congresscritters, “They should be able to participate in that.”
It is no wonder that Pelosi wasn’t very interested in putting more limits on stock trading. After all, she has a personal fortune of $120 million, and many of her stock trades have raised eyebrows for how fortuitous they have been.
By the end of December, Pelosi was doubling down on her position that Congress didn’t need any new stock trading bans by making a slew of new trades herself.
According to her disclosures, Pelosi purchased between $1.75 and $3.6 million worth of call options between Dec. 17 and Dec. 22 for companies including Google, Salesforce, Roblox and Disney.
Pelosi’s largest purchases were between $500,000 and $1 million for Google and between $600,000 and $1.25 million for Salesforce.
More to the point, her husband, Paul, made an $11 million move on big tech stocks just as Congress was passing legislation that impacted the tech sector.
By the end of January, Pelosi was already starting to “evolve” on the issue. At the end of the month, she was reluctantly saying, “I just don’t buy into it, but if members want to do that, I’m OK with that,” NPR reported.
“I have great confidence in the integrity of my members,” she added, still being dismissive of the concerns.
Naturally, Donald Trump was all over the issue and called for Pelosi to support rules to ban stock trading. “She has inside information. It’s not right. It’s not appropriate. It shouldn’t be,” Trump told Breitbart News.
“I happen to watch her and see her and dealt with her a lot, and I think she’s clever in one way and stone cold crazy. She should not be allowed to do that with the stocks. She should not be allowed to do that. It’s not fair to the rest of this country,” the former president added.
Trump may just be right, too. Only a day after Pelosi finally sided with new stock ban rules, news broke that Connecticut’s Democrat U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and his wife had reaped the benefits of a shady trading deal.