Multi-millionaire Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes that members of Congress and their spouses should be allowed to trade individual stocks. However, she is being seriously challenged by former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub.
On Wednesday, Pelosi used her typical indignant tone to defend lawmakers’ right to deal in individual corporate stocks. She said that we have a “free market economy” and members of Congress and spouses should be “able to participate in that.”
Shaub was appointed by President Obama to be director of the federal ethics office and served from 2013 until 2017. He said that Pelosi’s position is the “opposite” of an ethical situation, and her statement was a “disgusting comment.”
He added that lawmakers volunteered to run for Congress, and “nobody kidnapped them” and drug them off to Washington. He went on to say that Americans are sick of seeing people in Congress trade in stocks which creates an appearance of improper insider trading.
Shaub said that lawmakers should be restricted to investing in accounts managed by third parties and those not subject to insider preferences, like diversified mutual funds and government bonds.
Pelosi’s latest legally required financial disclosure shows that her husband owns millions of dollars worth of individual stocks in various companies regulated by Congress, including Amazon, Apple, Visa, and Comcast. He also has a sizable holding of stock options for Alphabet stock, which owns Google.
Meanwhile, Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said that she does not own stocks. He pointed out that all of the stocks on her disclosure are marked “spouse.” As if that makes any difference, Hammill went further to say that Pelosi has “no prior knowledge or subsequent involvement” in her husband’s stock trading.
Pelosi is losing even some of her Democratic caucus on the issue of stock trading. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that allowing lawmakers to trade stocks is “absolutely ludicrous.” AOC added that elected officials are privy to information that should make it illegal to sell individual stocks in addition to a violation of ethics rules.