- Wednesday, January 10, 2024

A version of this story appeared in the On Background newsletter from The Washington Times. Click here to receive On Background delivered directly to your inbox each Friday.

Make sure you’re sitting down for this: Rep. Nancy Pelosi has made a fortune while serving in Congress.

I know, it’s shocking. Last year was no different: Lady P enjoyed a whopping 65% return on her investments, well over double the S&P 500’s overall 24% gain.

So, how does she do it? Insider trading? Pshaw! She’s just very, very shrewd. Forget that at 83, she can barely string together a coherent sentence. She’s just a brilliant trader, plain and simple. She beat most hedge funds! She’s that good.

Mrs. Pelosi has served in the House for 38 years (“Walk Like an Egyptian” was the No. 1 song when she first took office). Why stay in office so long? Because you can make bank — serious bank.

Mrs. Pelosi and her husband have made millions since she took office. In December 2022, the couple sold more than $1.5 million in Alphabet stock. Then guess what happened? The Department of Justice announced an antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant the very next month.

Coincidence? No.

The Pelosis sold 30,000 shares of Alphabet, the parent company of Google and other companies, on Dec. 20, 21 and 28, the Daily Caller reported. They received between $1.5 million and $3 million for the total sale, according to a financial disclosure form filed on Jan. 12, 2023. DOJ announced its lawsuit against Alphabet on Jan. 23.

Between 2007 and 2020, Mrs. Pelosi and her husband saw their stock portfolio’s worth soar by as much as $30 million. Paul Pelosi’s net worth is said to be more than $120 million, mostly due to his holdings in technology stocks.

Nancy and Paul Pelosi, he of the famed mug shot after his drunken-driving arrest, seem to have a knack for well-timed trades. The couple bought and sold millions in Nvidia stocks just before a bill passed that subsidized the American semiconductor industry with $280 billion. Huh. Another coincidence.

Here’s the problem: Lawmakers are often privy to inside information that could amount to inside trading. And that’s why they shouldn’t be allowed to buy and sell stocks while they’re in office.

Not surprisingly, the former House speaker has long opposed legislation to ban stock trading for federal lawmakers. And she’s had lots of support; plenty of other members of Congress have become millionaires, even though they make just $180,000 a year nowadays.

A report last month from Business Insider found that 49 members of Congress and 182 senior-level congressional staffers had “violated the so-called STOCK Act, which requires public disclosure by themselves and family members within 45 days of sales or purchases of individual stocks, bonds and commodity futures.”

But guess what the penalty often is for violating the act, put in place a decade ago to combat insider trading? A $200 fine. Just as often, a House or Senate ethics committee will waive the penalty, delivering little more than a slap on the wrist for the violation.

One Republican lawmaker has a solution, and he’s dubbed it the “PELOSI Act” — “Preventing Elected Leaders from Owning Securities and Investments.” Sen. Josh Hawley wants to ban lawmakers and their spouses from owning and trading stocks while holding office.

“For too long, politicians in Washington have taken advantage of the economic system they write the rules for, turning profits for themselves at the expense of the American people,” the Missouri Republican said in a statement.

“As members of Congress, both Senators and Representatives are tasked with providing oversight of the same companies they invest in, yet they continually buy and sell stocks, outperforming the market time and again,” he said.

“While Wall Street and Big Tech work hand-in-hand with elected officials to enrich each other, hardworking Americans pay the price,” the senator said.

It’s too late to prevent Mrs. Pelosi from taking advantage of the lax rules in Congress. But maybe there’s still time to prevent other elected officials from getting rich through insider trading.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on X @josephcurl.

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